Online and offline options on the table for year 10 & 12 face-to-face support

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Secondary schools are considering both online and offline options for how they will provide “face-to-face contact” for year 10 and 12 students from June 1.

Alongside its plans to potentially re-open primary schools from June 1, the government has asked secondary schools to “offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year”.

Department for Education (DfE) guidance, published on May 11, asks schools to “limit attendance” of this cohort at any one time and to keep students in small groups – implying that ministers have physical attendance at school in mind.

However, schools are considering a number of approaches, most of which are centred around the idea of one-to-one sessions with teachers or small group teaching.

Speaking to SecEd last week, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said this provision might be akin to “review days”, whereby teachers speak to students about where they are in their learning in order to inform and identify next steps.

He said: “There is an opportunity to do something quite important for these children (in year 10 and 12) – to recognise that if you are in the middle of your GCSEs and A levels, you really need someone who can honestly assess where you are up to in your course. What is envisaged for year 10 and 12 is something akin to that. A sense check. Students coming in in very small numbers at a time and having that contact with their teachers.”

The DfE guidance adds: “From June 1, we expect that secondary schools and colleges will be able to offer some face-to-face contact with year 10 and year 12 pupils. This will not be a return to full timetables or pupils back in school or college full-time, rather some support to supplement pupils’ remote education.

“In line with implementing protective measures and reducing contacts, schools and colleges should limit the attendance of the year 10 and 12 cohort in the setting at any one time and keep students in small groups.”

Al Kingsley, chair of the Hampton Academies Trust in Peterborough, said they were currently planning an online facility so students can book one-to-one sessions at school with their tutors. They are also looking at the feasibility of delivering small group sessions with social distancing, particularly for year 12.

He added: “We are working hard on one-to-one remote dialogue with students, but all options are on the table. With 240 year 10s, the practicality of one-to-one sessions is far harder than the government might suggest.

“We are working on our risk assessments with clear one-way flow in corridors, additional hand wash stations and two-metre distancing in classrooms to minimise risk. There will also be advanced instructions for students before arriving at school and an increased cleaning schedule within school.”

In the North West, Phil Denton, headteacher at St Bede’s Catholic High School in Lancashire, is planning online calls for the “vast majority” of students with some home visits (staying on the doorstep) or school visits for those who need them.

He said he was considering the ASCL suggestion of review days: “It'll be more a mentoring programme with a teacher assigned to seven to 10 students to monitor their progress. We will be discussing written reports for parents to assess how far their child has been progressing.”

He added: “The conflicting advice and splits between unions is the most difficult aspect of this. The fall-out at national level has made the job of headteachers much more difficult in the school and the community.”

Dr Robin Bevan, headteacher at Southend High School for Boys, said that he was still in the process of deciding how to respond.

He told SecEd: “We know we will have logistical issues with transport, rooms, cleaning, catering and – most significantly – matching pupils to the specialist staff that teach the subjects they are doing.

“We have a strong and successful pattern of remote learning, with close follow-up for those who are struggling, vulnerable or unwell – so why bring pupils into school for lessons without their normal teachers and stop those teachers from producing remote activities?

“Our current thought is that it would be good to see every pupil before the summer holidays: in small groups, in rotation, with a chance to provide welfare and study progress checks, access to some UCAS and destinations guidance for year 12, and maybe some on-site physical activity – but no decisions here yet.”

Pete McNabb, headteacher of St Dominic’s Grammar in Staffordshire, said that pupils already have a personal mentoring system in place in year 10 and 12 and are meeting online with their tutor once a week. The school’s provision might also include subject-specific booster sessions.

He added: “We are inviting students to come in if they cannot study at home or find it difficult to do so. They will do remote learning but from within school.”

Meanwhile, Alex Smith, deputy headteacher of The Kings School in Gloucester, said that face-to-face time would be provided via online platforms to begin with. The school is still teaching lessons remotely and would allocate lesson time for this purpose.

Other options on the table include reduced timetables with one morning and one afternoon session in the school, something which is achievable with small classes across the two year groups in question.

  • DfE: Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from June 1, May 11, 2020: https://bit.ly/2WoJjTa
  • DfE: Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings, May 11, 2020: https://bit.ly/2yN0pkQ
  • SecEd: Outdoor lessons, smaller classes and one-way systems from June 1 – but no masks, SecEd, May 12, 2020: https://bit.ly/2WOJOVI
  • SecEd: Some clarity over what 'face-to-face' support in years 10 and 12 might look like, May 13, 2020: https://bit.ly/2ZkYUVV


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