General Advice for Distance Learning

1. Keep to an agreed routine and the published timetable, as far as possible. Familiarity and structure will lead to a feeling of normalcy.

2. Try to create a dedicated space for learning to happen. Ideally, this should be a family space that can be monitored. With safeguarding in mind, we would advise that a child’s bedroom is not a suitable place. Google Meet also has the facility to blur backgrounds if this is something you wish to use.

3. If you are able, ensure there is a strong internet connection within this workspace.

4. Begin each day punctually, but check in with the Form Tutor if you have any issues. Some pupils will thrive within the distance learning environment, others will find this very difficult and will require more support, and this is something we will look to provide.

5. In a normal school day, there are dozens of opportunities for social interactions and opportunities to turn to a peer to exchange a thought or idea, participating in small or large group discussions, asking questions for clarification, collaborating on group projects, and countless other moments. Learning is powerful when pupils have opportunities to process their learning with others, so beyond the recommended check-ins, it is hugely beneficial when parents regularly engage with their children about what they’re learning.

6. Actively remove and monitor potential distractions, especially mobile phones/screens.

7. Prioritise your child’s wellbeing. Great learning only happens when children feel happy, safe and secure. Having fun is vital – so baking, painting and getting out and about in the garden are essential to enhancing wellbeing and enrichment. We will look to support this requirement via weekly Activity slots and by creating a range of activities to do on a Saturday.

8. Involve your children in helping to plan their routines, in this way, they will have more ownership over the final plan.

9. Limit tablets, phones and TV. It will be important for friends to stay in virtual contact with each other as long as interactions are friendly and supportive – but avoid an unhealthy overreliance on screen time in all of its guises. Too much screen time has very negative effects on physical and mental health and it disrupts sleep patterns as well. Variety is key: exercise, reading a great book and learning a new skill are all suitable ways of avoiding the sheer monotony of a TV and computer screen.

10. Emphasise literacy and numeracy as core functions. The English and Maths teachers will be setting a wide range of exercises to follow and these key skills should be prioritised where possible.

11. In particular, reading should be a central activity, as we will continue to track Accelerated Reading profiles. Indeed, we tracked this during the last lockdown and found that on average Mowden pupils continued to grow as readers at an accelerated rate. This allowed our pupils to hit the ground running when the lockdown was ended. Core reading skills are essentially to all aspects of the curriculum. Pupils can read to themselves, be read to, share reading with a member of the family, or listen to an audio book. Accelerated Readers (Year 2 - Year 8) should aim to read for a total of at least 40 minutes a day. Reception and Year 1 should aim to achieve 30 minutes daily.

12. Breaks are important - build these into the day. It may be that in between lessons they could benefit from a quick movement break or a drink of water. Even when they are at school, a quick walk between classrooms helps them switch over to the next subject. There will be a natural gap between lessons, as there would be in School. This will allow all parties to prepare for the next lesson and to have convenience breaks.

13. Praise children’s efforts and behaviour, not just their achievements: positive, constructive praise that targets effort, behaviour and specific aspects of a child’s work is much more powerful than just saying well done for completing your English.