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Purple Oaks Academy

Blended (Remote) Learning


Blended learning is the approach the academy takes to providing education for some students who are attending the academy and some students who are learning from home - also known as learning remotely. The information below is designed to help parents and carers know what to expect when their child is learning from home. As always, class teams are at the end of the phone, an email or Teams message and will be more than happy to answer individual questions or concerns. 

For details of what to expect when individual students are self-isolating, please see the final section.

What should my child expect from immediate remote education in the first day or two of students being sent home?

We are in a position to get remote learning taking place very quickly – at the start of 'Lockdown 3' which was announced on Monday 4th January at 8p.m. remote learning was fully in place by Tuesday 5th January at 11a.m.!

The initial tasks will be shared with your child via Microsoft Teams, and your teacher will be available via email or telephone should you have difficulty  logging in. Initial tasks will be worksheet based but ‘live’ teaching sessions will start within the first couple of days.

Following the first few days of remote education, will my child be taught broadly the same curriculum as they would if they were in school?

We teach the same broad, engaging and rich curriculum remotely as we do in school wherever possible and appropriate. The offer will be consistent with the quality first curriculum, teaching and learning offer in school. However, we have made some adaptations in certain subjects. For example, we have swapped the order of our PE lessons ensure we are able to effectively deliver PE through remote learning. For example, if we were due to be teaching a team sport this would not be able to take place and we would swap it for something that can be done by individuals at home such as fitness training, gymnastics or dance. Anything that we have ‘swapped’ will be taught later in the year.

Remote teaching and study time each day

How long can I expect work set by the school to take my child each day?

At Purple Oaks Academy our first priority will be meeting the mental health and wellbeing needs of our learners, providing activities that are fun and engaging whilst meeting the needs of the child’s / young person’s EHCP and personal aspirations. For example, learning may consist of e activity packs including messy play, painting or a treasure hunt around the house. For older students,  this could mean following online learning activities towards accreditation  for GCSEs.

Our students access learning in different ways to mainstream schools, which is why they need specialist provision which is outlined in their EHCP. They require a higher level of support so there will be no expectation for length of learning through the day. For some students it is appropriate for them to be completing 3-4 hours of learning tasks each day while  others whose learning is largely play based, may  involve sensory activities..The highly-skilled team will ensure they adapt the tasks to support students’ learning needs.

Our students can attention can span from 2 minutes to 45 minutes – and this will vary from individual to individual and from task to task. Many students follow a ‘work then choose’ approach to their learning. For example, they will complete an adult directed activity followed by an activity of their choosing to allow them to remain regulated and engaged. If you need support with how to use this approach at home please speak to your child’s class team who will be able to help you.  

Accessing remote education

How will my child access any online remote education you are providing?

Your child will access all remote education through Microsoft Teams. We will send out information to all parents and carers to help you log in to Microsoft Teams.  Class teams will be more than happy to talk you through the process over the phone. Many of the students are used to using Microsoft Teams already.

We have produced some guides to help you access the most commonly used software such as Teams and Class Notebook - the guides are available on the academy website or can be emailled to you directly. 

If my child does not have digital or online access at home, how will you support them to access remote education?

We recognise that some students may not have suitable online access at home. We take the following approaches to support those students to access remote education:

The academy will deliver a laptop to any student who does not have access to a suitable device for remote learning. We carried out a survey in the autumn term and so we know who we need to deliver devices to. However, if your circumstances have changed you just need to let your class team know and we will support you.

If needed, the academy will also deliver a SIM Card with data to provide an internet connection.

Some students, due to their SEND, are not able to engage with digital learning and in this case work packs will be delivered.

How will my child be taught remotely?

We use a combination of the following approaches to teach students remotely:

Each phase in the academy will take a different approach to remote teaching due to the differing ages and needs of the students. The curriculum will still be a broad, engaging and rich curriculum offer.

There will be a mix of opportunities including virtual face to face sessions so that students can engage with their class team in groups and whole classes to ensure they retain their sense of belonging.

Each phase has produced an information sheet about what you can expect.

Some examples of remote teaching approaches Purple Oaks Academy uses are:

  • live teaching (online lessons) including communication sessions, story time, assemblies and teaching of new subject content
  • recorded teaching (e.g. Oak National Academy lessons, video/audio recordings made by teachers such as Attention Autism videos and Food Technology ‘cook along's)
  • printed paper packs produced by teachers (e.g. workbooks, worksheets)
  • Independent work packs with English (literacy), Maths and Fine Motor skills tasks
  • commercially available websites supporting the teaching of specific subjects or areas, such as Reading Eggs and Mathletics

Engagement and feedback

What are your expectations for my child’s engagement and the support that we as parents and carers should provide at home?

At Purple Oaks we understand that due to the significantly different needs our students have, their engagement will vary, as will the amount of support they need.

We will encourage students  to engage with the daily live sessions, build their confidence to respond and participate too, where possible. We will praise both privately through individual responses to students and publicly. Our weekly celebration assemblies will continue where we will celebrate the wide range of achievements through our ‘Proud’ comments and our ‘Star of the Week’. We will be looking out for examples of fantastic work, good levels of engagement, trying something new or communicating well.

We would ask parents to support their children with logging in to Microsoft Teams, ensuring they are in a communal area of the house and by remaining present if their child needs support to access the learning. You can support your child by setting a routine, in line with remote teaching timetable , so that your child knows when they will be expected to attend live sessions. This will help to structure their day. If you need any support with visual schedule cards, please ask your class team who will be happy to provide them for you.

How will you check whether my child is engaging with their work and how will I be informed if there are concerns?

The academy will be keeping a register of students who attend the remote teaching sessions so that we can check student’s engagement and identify any concerns. If your child is not engaging with remote learning we will phone you, just like we would if your child was not in school, to find out if everything is ok and check should help be needed.. Should your child feel unwell and be unable to access online learning, do contact the academy as you normally would.

Where engagement is a concern, we will work with you to understand the barriers. Where there are issues with technology, , the way tasks are presented or something else we will support you to find an alternative. For example, we can provide social stories, visuals  and task breakdowns etc to support students.

If engagement continues to be a problem you will be contacted by a member of the leadership team to discuss the next steps.

How will you assess my child’s work and progress?

Feedback can take many forms.  When the students are in the academy we will have a differentiated policy for giving feedback which is in line with the student’s ability to understand the feedback.

Our approach to feeding back on student work is as follows:

  • The majority of feedback is verbal – we do this through teachers asking questions and listening carefully to the answers given. Questions may also be visual and we would be looking for non verbal responses from students using their PECS for example.
  • Where a student is able to read, understand and respond to their feedback  they will receive written comments from their teacher. This may be a member of staff who is working remotely rather than their usual class teacher should they be  delivering face to face learning.
  • Where a student is not able to read and understand it is not appropriate to provide written feedback (marking comments) – however, teachers may provide a written commentary to help them with their assessment.  

Additional support for students with particular needs

How will you work with me to help my child who needs additional support from adults at home to access remote education?

We aim to support students and families by providing a broad and relevant curriculum ranging from academic to therapeutic EHCP provision. We recognise that some students, for example some students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), may not be able to access remote education without support from adults at home. We acknowledge the difficulties this may place on families, and we will work with parents and carers to support those students in the following ways:

  • Providing support from specialists, such as the Speech and Language Therapist, who will be able to work with parents to deliver interventions.
  • Provide visual resources, in printed form if needed, to help parents support students to engage.
  • Provide practical activities for the students to engage in using common household items – learning takes place in many forms and there is much value in cooking or sensory activities and we will work with families to provide those.
  • Provide emotional support where needed, talking interventions will take place over Microsoft Teams.
  • Recognising that sensory regulation is really important, we will be offering Sensory Circuits ideas and some live sessions too for those students who need them. For the older students we will be offering our usual relaxation and mindfulness support.
  • Maintaining close contact with our students and their families by at least weekly phone calls in addition to the live check ins. You will know who is going to phone you and on which day – and how to contact them if you need support before the check in.

Remote education for self-isolating students

Where individual students need to self-isolate but the majority of their peer group remains in school, how remote education is provided will likely differ from the approach for whole groups. This is due to the challenges of teaching students both at home and in school.

If my child is not in school because they are self-isolating, how will their remote education differ from the approaches described above?

Where a student is self-isolating – and well enough to learn – they will be able to access the same curriculum at home as rest of the class at school. The class team will share the learning activities via Microsoft Teams and there will be opportunities for students to join live teaching sessions.

We understand that if a student is self-isolating due to a family member being unwell it may not be possible for a family to support the child to access online learning. In this case we will provide printed work packs for the student to complete at home.