School Spotlight - Jane Davies, Head Teacher at Boyne Hill CE Infant and Nursery School

Monday, 27 July 2020 | Written by Nick Rawson, Marketing Manager, PrimarySite

jane davies.jpg

School Spotlight - Jane Davies, Head Teacher at Boyne Hill CE Infant and Nursery School

We designed and launched Boyne Hill’s website in 2014 and love how passionate Jane and her staff are about utilising home learning tools. We recently spoke to Jane about how they’ve been using their website during lockdown to support their pupils learning journeys and some of the challenges they’ve had to overcome at this difficult time.

What have been the key challenges for your school during the lockdown and in the gradual return to school this month?

There weren't really any 'challenges' as such during the lockdown, once we had the staff rota in place and the teachers were up and running with the Video Resource Centre, Blog and weekly home-learning packs. I would say the tricky time was at the very beginning when we suddenly had to manage remote-learning, get all the children set up to be able to access the new website areas and communicate all of this to parents. Many of the passwords had to be reset too so that was a crazy time.

The teachers had to change the way they worked and have certainly developed their IT skills, creating and uploading videos and managing daily blogs.

Whilst it wasn't too much of a challenge, regular communication with families was key and we achieved this through phone calls, emails and of course the blog.

The period prior to wider school opening was again very stressful as we had to very carefully plan how we were going to accommodate potentially three-quarters of our entire cohort with an almost fifty percent staff absence. Once we had everything in place though, stress levels reduced and everything ran smoothly.

How has the website supported your teachers and students with home learning and homework setting?

The Video Resource Centre and Blog have been instrumental in maintaining distance learning and following wider school opening, three of my teachers who have been shielding, have taken charge of these areas. The feedback from parents has been nothing but positive which is super and all credit to PrimarySite for making this facility freely available.

It has also been really helpful being able to direct parents to a specific Covid-19 ‘Help and Support’ section on the website where any new information has been uploaded as well as links to other learning websites.

What feedback have you had from teachers/parents/pupils about using this technology?

The teachers have loved using the technology and we are definitely going to make use of it moving forward, particularly for setting homework and for uploading information videos about the school (video tours) and parents information meetings which won't take place face to face for a while yet.

The parents have been extremely grateful for the teaching videos, stories and the opportunity for their children to share what they have been doing at home so their teacher can see that they have continued with their learning.

Challenge wise, obviously not all parents have tablets, laptops etc and rely on their mobile phones so not all children have been able to consistently access the website. Our children are very young (3-7yrs) so parental support with online learning is very much required. With both parents working from home full-time, some children haven't been able to get the support they need to effectively do distance learning or to upload any photos of what they might have been doing.

We have, however, been creating weekly or fortnightly topic-based home-learning packs which parents have been collecting so if they couldn't work online, they could do the paper sheets and of course, some children have done these and accessed the website areas.

How has teaching delivery changed and will you be incorporating any of these changes long term?

As far as teaching in school goes (we have Year 2 back now as well), we have obviously tweaked table layouts and each child has their own pack of equipment (pencils etc) and a consistent teacher and TA in class. We have maintained the national curriculum but abandoned our usual topics and done different ones which have been great fun and have led to us reviewing our current curriculum topics yet again!

I think we will retain the individual equipment packs moving forward, at least for the foreseeable future.

What opportunities are provided for online learning in terms of advanced technology?

The Video Resource Centre offers great opportunities for pre-learning and over learning. Pre learning is particularly beneficial for our EAL learners and for some of those with SEND. Pupils will also be able to watch a video of something they find tricky, e.g., an area of phonics or maths and if parents watch the videos too, they will see how we teach specific disciplines.

Challenges will be time constraints and work-life balance as teachers are already overworked. I am going to retain the learning videos already uploaded and just rearrange into specific categories and then we can add to them as and when. We will discuss the possibilities of pre-learning videos over the next couple of weeks and go from there.

If you’re thinking of trying your hand at some filmmaking, here are some projects from the schools we work with to inspire you.

Blog Categories