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Telford Junior School

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Questions & Answers

During the school year teaching and administrative staff will be asked questions or receive comments about working arrangements or different aspects of school life. It is often difficult to respond to these in detail at the time and it may be necessary to look into the matter further. We thought it would be useful to log some of these questions and provide a response to them, so that parents/carers can see that their thoughts have been considered and so that there is a reference point for future discussions (since some of the questions tend to be perennial ones).

Could the school use an application such as Zoom or MS Teams to deliver live lessons as part of its remote learning provision?

 

We have considered the option of using MS Teams to deliver live lessons, but decided that we would focus on providing quality learning resources through Padlet pages, our chosen online platform. During the second period of national schools' closure, teachers are developing the use of recorded instructions, explanations and short lessons, using PowerPoint presentations and video recordings. There are a number of reasons why we favour this approach:

 

1 . We are aware that some pupils do not have adequate IT access at home, or sole access to devices, in order to view such lessons. Video calls also take up a large amount of bandwidth, adding an additional burden to those households where parents/carers are already using the internet to work from home. It is also possible that some families would not be able to access lessons at the allocated time, due to the multiple use of ICT in the home. Therefore, PowerPoint lessons or pre-recorded videos offer more universal access.

 

2. Regular streaming into families' homes and expecting teachers to stream from their homes presents significant safeguarding concerns that we believe remain unresolved. It is not possible for the school to monitor or control those present on multiple devices, simultaneously streaming from multiple homes. There have also been cases of pupils inappropriately streaming when the teacher has come offline. 

 

3. Prior to the second period of schools' closure, there were some enquiries about the possibility of streaming lessons taking place in school, when a pupil is not able to attend the school (due to shielding or self-isolation). Our cluster of schools is of the view that we cannot live stream the lessons taking place in school, as there would also be safeguarding implications for any children being taught in the classroom at that time. 

 

4. Lessons do not have to be live streamed to be good lessons. We are working on providing PowerPoint slides with voiceovers that explain and clarify for pupils what they need to do or consider. There is also a wealth of resources that the DfE and other sources have made available for this purpose, to which teachers will provide links as appropriate. Teachers are able to supplement these with a variety of other resources, according to the learning intention of the lesson.  

 

5. Teachers are not always available for live online lessons, because they are timetabled to teach keyworker and vulnerable children. 

 

6. The offer of email communication directly with the teacher, or arranging a telephone conversation if required, means that the school is providing two-way communication with pupils or with parents/carers. This worked well for families during the first lockdown and is now established practice in school. In addition, with the second period of national schools' closure we have introduced the Teams registration slot each morning. This allows all children the opportunity to check in with their teacher each morning and for the teacher to explain the planned activities for the day.

 

7. MS Teams has been used for older students prior to lockdown for the delivery of 'lecture style' teaching. Typically students will join the Teams meeting, muting their microphones and video cameras. While the students are receiving the lecture, it tends not to be a two-way process, which is difficult to achieve with large numbers joining a Teams meeting. Muting microphones is necessary to avoid background noises being transmitted while the presenter is speaking. It is difficult to see how this style of delivery would be significantly beneficial to primary age children. Recorded video footage would seem to offer the same advantages and, because of the age group, would need to be relatively short. Managing a large number of primary age children on a Teams meeting is very different proposition to the experiences of Zoom family and friends gatherings many will have embraced during lockdown.

 

8. While not planning to use MS Teams for remote learning, the school has put in place effective two-way communications with families and through the Padlet online learning portal is able to provide quality remote learning consistently across all year groups. 

 

The article (link below) from the Times Educational Supplement makes the point that pre-recorded lessons are at least as good as streamed live lessons and may even be better:

 

https://www.tes.com/news/coronavirus-schools-online-learning-are-live-lessons-really-better-recorded-ones

 

Why is the school used as a polling station and could this not be changed?

 

The school contacted the Electoral Services Officer, regarding this issue. He explained that under Schedule 1, para 22 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, the returning officer does have the legal right to commandeer the use of the school for the purpose of running elections. In the case of Telford Junior School, there is nowhere else suitable for use as a Polling Station in the electoral ward.

 

It should be noted that the school uses election days that are planned (e.g. for Local Elections or Police Commissioner Elections) as one of its statutory teacher training days, so this does not affect the statutory 195 school days provision. Unplanned election days are different (e.g. the calling of a General Election or referendum). It is unlikely that the latter will be required in the immediate future.

 

Telford Junior School and Telford Infant School look to coincide training days wherever possible, to reduce the impact on families who have children in both schools.

 

Would it be possible for the school uniform track-suit trousers to have reinforced knees, since the children can wear a hole in them over time, through play?

 

It would be possible to source uniform trousers with reinforced knees, but this is likely to result in a significant cost increase for the item. Our feeling is that this would not be welcomed by most parents. Unfortunately, wear and tear to trouser knees is quite typical for children of primary school age. 

 

Is my child's reading book too 'easy' for him/her?

 

When making a judgement about the level of difficulty of a reading book and its suitability for a particular reader, teachers consider not only how easily they read the text (the fluency with which the child is able to read the text), but also the child's level of comprehension, taking into account their skills of deduction and inference. Sometimes a book which a child can read with reasonable fluency, is still challenging these other skills. Please see the website page about the school's approach to Reading. Go to the 'Curriculum' tab and then you will find it under 'Subjects'.

 

Why is there only one uniform supplier?

 

The overwhelming parent view would seem to be that there is a definite school uniform. When the school commissioned the current active uniform this was taken into account. Nearly all the children now wear the new uniform. The school is not that large a market and so to make it viable for a supplier to order in the volume of items that need to be kept in stock, it is not realistic to engage multiple suppliers. The economies of scale help the supplier to keep costs down. Our current supplier is local and has developed a good working relationship with the school. The supplier provides a good online delivery service, which seems to be appreciated by most parents.

 

Would it be possible to provide an more detailed overview of the school developments that have taken place following the July 2019 Ofsted inspection?

 

This question was raised at the Parents' Forum meeting, at which there was a presentation of the developments which have taken place. Those present at the meeting were able to ask more detailed questions. The document below is an overview, which was shared at the Local Authority Task Group meeting in February 2020. It provides details of the progress the school has made to address the actions set out in the Ofsted report, which should give parents/carers an understanding of the work that has been undertaken.

 

 

How does the school reach decisions about teaching arrangements for individual classes? In particular, how is it decided which classes are taught by a job share arrangement?

 

Decisions about teaching arrangements are made by school leaders, who take account of many factors, including the composition of classes and the school's staffing structure. School leaders are not at liberty to discuss the characteristics of individual classes or pupils and so it is not possible to give detailed explanations as to how decisions are made.

 

Where job share arrangements are in place, there is careful planning within the year groups, which helps with liaison, continuity and consistency. There is also evidence to suggest that children who experience more than one class teacher tend to be better prepared for later school life.

 

In Key Stage 2 shared teaching responsibilities should not present difficulties for the children, when there is shared planning and good liaison between the teachers involved. Indeed there are many Key Stage 1 children who will be taught by more than one teacher these days, since job share arrangements have become a common working pattern.

 

It is natural for parents/carers to argue for the teaching arrangement that they perceive to be most advantageous for their child, but please be mindful that as school leaders we have to take account of the broader picture.

 

Parents/carers can help make such arrangements a success, by presenting a positive view of the teaching arrangement to their child.

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