Students at West Norfolk Academies Trust secondary schools have been given a helping hand with lockdown learning courtesy of the Knowledge Organiser book system which is assisting remote schooling.
The schools in question – Springwood, St Clement's, Marshland and Smithdon – are benefiting from a system that was already planned for introduction before lockdown began, but which has proved to be an even wiser investment in the current pandemic climate since being rolled out last month.
“This was a resource which we had planned to use across the trust this year anyway and distribute to all students,” said the Trust’s head of secondary standards, John Hirst, who is also head teacher of Smithdon.
“We have invested heavily into it because of its usefulness. It is used in lessons, but primarily at home where it can be used for homework and preparing for tests and quizzes.
"Every lesson starts with a short recap quiz, which covers information learnt from the entire course. It makes it easier for parents to understand what their children are learning in school and much easier for them to support them at home.”
Knowledge organisers are being used in schools across the country, linked to the Knowledge Rich curriculum, which is where the curriculum is defined in terms of specific subject knowledge to be mastered.
Teachers of each subject across the Trust collaborated to come up with the content, with a new book being produced each term for what is expected to be learnt in that time.
“The approach is very uniform across all the schools,” Hirst continued. “Some have a slightly different offer than others, but all subjects in the national curriculum are common and each school covers the same material and core knowledge.
“We expect individual teachers to add their own interests, knowledge and personality to lessons, which allows for a richness to learning and a continual development of the curriculum.
“Assessment is key to an effective curriculum and the trust also has a full set of common Key Stage 3 exam papers, which all have a common layout and test the understanding of each student across the trust in the same way at the same time.
"We can then effectively use the data from these assessments to support students, departments and schools across the trust.”
So far, Mr Hirst said, the organisers were proving popular with pupils and their parents, as a good way of tracking knowledge development at a time when direct contact with teaching staff is limited, and he said everyone had learnt a lesson from the experience of the first lockdown.
“Schools have to constantly be imaginative, creative and resourceful in these times,” he said. “In the first lockdown teachers had to learn how to use new technology and prepare lessons for distance learning. Work would be set for students and expected to be completed by a given time.
“This time we have been keen on maintaining structure and direct contact with students. All students follow their normal timetable and the vast majority of lessons have a live input with their class teacher. Our schools use Google Classroom as the main channel of communication and overall it is going very well.
“Teachers are also grateful to the many parents who are supporting the schools in the trust with this online initiative and we are grateful to the many positive comments we receive.”
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