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Lockdown learning

School remote learning issues - What to do?

5 replies

HiDarl · 19/01/2021 22:11

Hi fellow parents.

I am not new to the mumsnet community as I find it really helpful but it is the first time I’ve joined in and added something. I have always come here for advice from pregnancy to the early days of parenthood where it is like sh!t has hit the fan.

Anyway, I am writing today because I feel I am stuck in a situation with my daughter’s school and I really would like to know if any other parents are in a similar situation and if anyone has any advice that may be helpful to our current situation. My daughter is now 6yr old so year 1 in school. Obviously we are back to home schooling which is fun (not!).

First I want to say, sorry for the long post. I’ve tried to cut it down as much as I can. Ok, here is the deal. Both myself and my husband are currently working from home so homeschooling for us is a challenge plus a 3 year old to look after. However, we are not complaining about that as many parents are in the same situation. However, what we have a problem with is the way the school is dealing with remote learning.

I understand and fully accept that it is not mandatory for schools to offer zoom lessons due to security reasons however, my daughter’s school has been not good at providing us parents with the right resources.

We have been provided with work...

  1. That contains spelling, grammatical and singular-plural mistakes. English is not my first language and I can spot them.
    2)That has no explanation whatsoever as to the material we need to teach or advice on how to teach them.
  2. At random times. The first week was particularly bad where the teacher will email work over at random times during the day, at 9.30am or 11am or 1pm or even 2pm. So we had no idea what work we will be getting each day and when.
  3. Where the worksheets have no recognisable filenames, that also contain multiple worksheets for different subjects which are meant to be used on different days. We don’t know what goes with what. We have to spend time to figure it all out and organise it into an order ourselves.
  4. As a Word Doc schedule that will say “see worksheet attached” but no worksheets can be attached to Word Doc. So, we have to either figure out what worksheet they mean or email to ask which one.
  5. With broken web links. Over half of them do not work and just flash up as an error code on the websites or just opens a google search.
  6. We have been given geography work that was supposed to be learning about the United Kingdom but the first question in the exercise was “How many continents are there? No resources whatsoever about continents and didn’t seem relevant to what we are supposed to be learning.
  7. That is being sent as Word Docs even though PDFs are more easily opened on all devices and we know other parents are having issues with it so we’ve let them know quite a few times.

    As I said I can understand if the school does not wish to do live lessons due to security reasons but they are not even doing any audio clips or pre-recorded videos to help teach the children or explain how we can teach them as parents. Even a link for us as new teachers about how to teach would be very helpful. The other day I literally had no idea how to teach my daughter number bonds because I never did them when I was at school. I ran out of ways to teach her how to count in 5s too. I had to try and find my own resources online for every subject. I am worried, what if I find her something that isn’t suitable or is different to the way she was taught or is just wrong.

    The work we get sent is always in Word (docx) which I know sounds pretty normal but at home we are Mac users for work so that is the machine we have at home. It isn’t uncommon for Mac users to not have Microsoft Word installed nowadays since you can just use Google docx etc. We have asked the school to please send things in PDF because it is a universal format and although we can just convert them every time, other parents are having issues and don’t know how to do that. We’ve said this a lot to help everyone and they still send in docx.

    Now, here is the thing. I have been complaining to the school about all of the points above. They have made a few adjustments and a few things have improved which is great. They now send work on time. They now also send a weekly schedule so at least we can plan and manage things better. Otherwise, we are still having the other issues I mentioned above.

    So in regards to the PDF issues. The business manager of the school has replied and said since we are having trouble with viewing Word documents. They can offer us a PC laptop that has been granted to them by the DFE (department of education). I was really annoyed by this because those laptops should be given to families that genuinely need them and not because we have asked for files to be sent in a universal format. We even sent a link to the microsoft support page where it shows how to do it. That would solve the cause of the issue for many parents, not just us. Offering us a PC laptop is not the best solution to the problem.

    The headteacher is basically refusing to listen to anything we are saying and is arguing that all the materials that have been provided so far are adequate and up to the DFE standard. It was the right thing to do to offer us a laptop. The headteacher is also suggesting it is our fault the link doesn’t work and all we need to do is to change browsers and copy and paste it in properly. Now, both myself and my husband are very technology savvy people, I use a range of stuff for my work. Especially for my husband who is a software engineer. In a nutshell, the links they have provided are incorrect either down to a broken page on the website or containing characters that shouldn’t be there (as my husband pointed out).

    I would love to get your views on a few things…

  8. I have obviously explained how the work is set, so is that normal? Or is that just them not being organised? Bad admin?
  9. The work that is set with spelling mistakes etc. is that up to the DFE standard? Is that acceptable?
  10. Are we as parents expected to find our own resources to teach our child? Even though this is extra time we need to spend on top of our full time jobs it would be mildly acceptable if they told us about it. What do you think?
  11. Am I right to feel annoyed that the school simply offered us a laptop because they cannot be bothered to convert documents into PDF? Isn’t that a waste of resources?
  12. We are based in the Essex area, I’d especially love to hear from parents who are in the area (Braintree, Maldon, Colchester, Chelmsford, Brentwood and any small villagers inbetween.) and have children at a similar age to mine. Just so I have something to compare to. I’d love to understand what your school is doing in terms of remote learning. 1) Are they doing Zoom lessons? 2) Recorded videos? 3) Audio? 4) Calling students/ parents for a catch up? 5) Delivering Worksheets? 6) Explaining to parents the meaning of teaching jargon? 7) How is work set?
  13. Does all schools now need a remote learning policy that must comply to?

    I have heard from a few different friends who have children of a similar age and some are having 1 - 2hrs of Zoom lessons from the class teacher daily. When I hear things like that, I cannot help but feel my daughter is at a disadvantage because the school is not offering anything similar to that. Especially with what we have been given so far. I am definitely trying my best to educate her with the resources we have been provided. All I want is for the resources given to parents to be better and with some explanation. Otherwise, it is like the blind leading the blind.

    I know other parents in my daughter’s class are struggling too with everything I have mentioned but only one other parent has made a complaint and everyone else is just moaning about it on the group chat.

    As a parent I just feel a bit stuck because the head teacher just doesn't want to know and basically we should get on with it. However, how am I supposed to teach my daughter when the school is not providing us with the correct materials? I know she is only 6 but I do feel worried that if we don’t keep her up on the school work then she will fall behind. We don’t want this pandemic to impact her too much in any way. When I was little I was really ill and I was off school for over six weeks and it was really hard for me to catch up, so I do not want this to happen to my own child.

    Any advice on the matter will be helpful. Thank you very much in advance. Sorry again for the long post. xxx
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Bonnieonthelam · 20/01/2021 15:15

I am really sorry your school hasn’t provided the resources in a way that is organised and intuitive. I think in the first instance it’s important to acknowledge that a lot of schools are struggling because their infrastructure or staff are not up to date as for examples schools in major cities like London. Setting homework on .pdf documents sounds like it is going to be a struggle for them to get their head around. As you said you are technologically savvy, but maybe the staff at your school aren’t and a simple conversion would be too complicated for them to execute. Also, the fact that there are many grammatical mistakes speaks to some level of disorganisation. So. With all that in mind, I would take up the offer of the laptop. Your child needs it. I would also see if you could follow some form of year 1 study whether it be from CPG books, white rose or oak national academy. Thereby becoming more responsible for your child’s learning whilst your school gets its act together. I would however send the school communications to let them know that what they are providing is inadequate and needs work. Please don’t get angry with your school or have a heated exchange with staff. They are dealing with Key worker kids and doing their best. Good luck to you!

Also, finally, apart from apple and many forward thinking companies - the standard in education and government across the board is a Windows based environment.

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DicklessWonder · 20/01/2021 15:28

I’m a mac user. I would draw the line at installing windows but have always had office on there just for ease (work uses windows). You could even download OpenOffice which would solve your issues for free.

Your daughter is 6. Give her some colouring pencils and a few workbooks and paper and let her get on with it. This level of stress isn’t good for any of you.

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starfishmummy · 21/01/2021 13:59

I could have written some of this myself!

My DS is much older, post 16 but with SN, so needs a lot of support. We are already having to manage without the adaptive IT stuff he uses in class and I have had a couple of "run ins" about the worksheets! We use microsoft as do they but there seems to be some incompatibility - we have Word but itnwoukd seem that the staff working from home don't.

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SE13Mummy · 21/01/2021 18:30

It sounds as though the school is making an effort to improve the organisation of things and to make it easier for you which is good. It's unlikely they will be able to agree to every demand of every parent so having offered a solution i.e. a laptop, would probably appreciate it if you took them up on it instead of creating an additional layer of work for every teacher in the school.

Since about 22nd October 2020, schools have been required to publish their remote learning policy. These policies should meet the DfE guidance which is available online and outlines the sort of learning that should be offered to children. It is expected that at least some lessons will be accompanied by video or audio explanations although these may be pre-recorded and don't have to be created by the school. I believe there is mention of contact with the teacher but that doesn't have to be on video, nor does it have to be daily. What does your school's policy say about these things?

Many schools are using a single platform for setting work e.g. Tapestry, Purple Mash, Google Classroom so everything is in one place. Others have an online learning environment accessible via the school website where links to useful websites etc. might also be stored. The primary school I teach at uses Google Classroom and we are doing everything through that whereas my DCs' secondary uses SMHW to provide details of tasks and a submission function but MS Teams for the live sessions.

I appreciate that you are worried about your DD falling behind and/or being disadvantaged but it seems as though your concern may be based on your experience as a child (presumably when your peers were attending school during your absence) and comparison with children at other schools. It is unlikely that your DD will fall behind her classmates who are all receiving the same materials whilst learning remotely.

I would recommend having a read of the school's policy and looking to see if there are things on there that aren't being offered. Accept the laptop so that aspect of things runs more smoothly and once that's sorted, thank the school for the support before asking when you can expect the missing aspects of the policy e.g. links to teaching videos to explain concepts to be implemented.

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BadlydoneHelen · 21/01/2021 22:00

Sorry but I think it sounds terrible provision- converting to PDF format is not that hard. It sounds woefully managed but I'm afraid not altogether surprising. Oh and I'm a primary school teacher- I and my colleagues would be embarrassed by the mess your child's school seem to be making. However your child is only 6 so it's not a disaster! as you are obviously savvy parents I suggest you take matters into your own hands: get on White Rose for maths, buy a couple of CGP or Scholastic workbooks for English, read lots of fiction books, do a bit of BBC bite size or Oak Academy lessons for science and your child will be fine.

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