Home Learning Update

Home Learning Update

Dear Parent/Carer,

Thank you for your continuing support at this challenging time. The Government’s announcements in recent days have made it clear once again the unprecedented nature of the current school closures and the impact it is having on young people and their families. Following on from Dr Janzan’s ParentMail earlier this week, I wanted to update you on some crucial points about helping your child to get the very best from distance learning.

At TMCS our approach to distance learning has evolved into one where every Head of Subject and class teacher are setting activities in ways that are the most suitable for their discipline. This may mean online resources are used widely in some subject areas, whereas others may use more traditional strategies, but all are setting activities using the most appropriate approach to ensure students’ learning is as full as it can be. The introduction of the weekly email from class teachers (or Heads of Subject as appropriate) has been vital for students to understand the place of the week’s work in the wider subject, and perhaps most importantly to show that their teachers are continuing to support their learning as fully as possible.

In light of this, our school will not be adopting virtual lessons. Teaching at TMCS before the closure embraced high expectations for all students through whatever strategies were the most effective, and we are continuing to do this through distance learning. Virtual lessons have suffered with technological problems since their introduction, increased by the fact that overall students are completely unfamiliar with such teaching. Such strategies also present scheduling problems for both sides. For example teachers are required to lead lessons from home at a specific time when many face their own responsibilities such as childcare, and many students struggle to access ICT as freely as such a schedule would demand. When students can access virtual lessons, some have quickly found ways to opt out (being online for a session does not mean engagement with learning) and a small minority are reported as disrupting the session for others. As a result of all of this, a number of schools are now moving away from these methods. The most effective teaching strategies, such as students acting on teacher feedback on their studies to make progress, are not enhanced by virtual lessons. TMCS’ approach by contrast can deliver great teaching using the full range of resources at our disposal, including online resources when they are the most appropriate and effective.

Unfortunately TMCS’ approach is not as visible a response to school closures when compared a virtual classroom environment. Also parents and carers will only see the overview of all activities set on SIMS Homework, rather than the more personalised and detailed interactions via email between class teachers and their class. I can assure you that every one of my colleagues has risen admirably to the challenge of completely adapting their teaching to support students fully while they’re studying at home. All teachers are selecting the very best strategies and resources to support their students, and for all of us this has meant trying new methods and sharing emerging best practice quickly. For some teachers this has meant teaching through Microsoft Teams, PowerPoint voiceovers and videos but there is no less professionalism or impact on students if more traditional approaches are adopted.

To continue ensuring your child is getting the most out of distance learning at this time:

Ensure they are checking their school email inbox every day. Class teachers and Heads of Subject aim to email the week’s work on the day students will usually have that lesson. These emails are invaluable for explaining the context of the work and for keeping the Teacher:Student working relationship strong ready for when schools reopen. Students should read this email carefully as it contains vital information for completing the work set.
Create a schedule for your child’s learning time. SIMS Homework will outline all of the activities set and their due date, and this will help to plan work for the week. Relevant resources can then be found in Filr. I would suggest your child follows their normal school timetable if they are finding this tricky, thereby completing work on the day(s) they would have that subject. All of this will help to ensure appropriate leisure and rest time to support your child’s wellbeing.
If whatever reason your child feels they are “behind” or that their workload is too high with previously set work they’ve not completed then please inform the class teacher(s), Form Tutor or Progress Lead. Activities set will often build on prior learning, so students can stop engaging if they feel overwhelmed. This will not be helpful when schools do reopen, and we are all here to support your child to ensure they are continuing to make progress despite the challenges of the current situation.

Hopefully this helps to explain TMCS’ approach to distance learning. As always if any further advice or support is needed please just let me or the relevant member of staff know.

Mr B. Wilcox
Assistant Head of School