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A Nuneaton school has received messages of thanks from parents for successfully recreating the school day online while pupils study at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Pupils at Hartshill School are following their usual timetable of lessons while being taught live in virtual classrooms using Microsoft Teams and digital note-taking app, OneNote. Teachers are monitoring online behaviour with the same standards for discipline being upheld and the same sanctions imposed as if the pupils were in school.

Ben Hazzard, Vice Principal at Hartshill School is responsible for ensuring that virtual teaching reflects the usual school day. He said, “To make sure engagement levels match normal expectations in school, we planned our remote learning provision to mirror the regular school experience as closely as possible.”

“We have implemented a simple, efficient system in which pupils access their Teams calendar to join their lessons. The timetable pupils follow is identical to the one that they have in school, with slightly shorter lessons to give everyone the opportunity to successfully log into the next lesson for a successful start. We have adjusted our online system so that we record attendance, and award reward points for engagement and good conduct. Senior colleagues drop into lessons and check on pupil engagement and behaviour, as they would in school.”

Lessons at Hartshill School are all being taught live and teachers can see whether pupils are active on their laptops and PCs. They follow-up with pupils who are inactive, provide live feedback during the lesson and send messages to parents to update them on their child’s progress. 

Ben added, “We have worked hard to make sure that our staff have received training and support to work in this new way and have produced bespoke step by step tutorial videos. Staff have taken home visualisers and graphic tablets to improve functionality when working from home, helping them to mirror the classroom experience.”

Liz Taylor, parent of a pupil in Year 10 said, “It’s great to see the staff working hard with the virtual teaching and seeing the interactions of staff and pupils that you usually don’t see in secondary school. It’s lovely seeing how confident pupils are growing with the online learning. I think everyone has done a wonderful job at such a difficult time.”  

Tracy May whose children are in Years 8 and 10 said, “Hartshill School have really excelled themselves with their on-line learning. My daughters are engaged and actively contribute to their lessons. We are kept informed on how well they are doing. It is great to hear the games they have got involved in to keep them motivated and learning in these very tricky times. Thank you to all of the teachers for going the extra mile for the benefit of their pupils.” 

Tracy Rigby, parent of a Year 9 pupil said, “Well done to Hartshill School and their fantastic teachers, for all of the hard work they have put into the remote learning. My son is so motivated about each lesson by the encouragement given to him by his teachers. As a parent, it is great to listen to him interacting with his teachers during lessons and receiving achievement texts.” 

Dr Louise Newman, Principal at Hartshill School said, “We’re delighted with this positive evolution into a fully live virtual learning experience during lockdown and are committed to ensuring that our pupils receive the best experience possible of online learning at this difficult time for everyone.

“We have transformed our virtual classroom experience since the first lockdown last year and we are pleased that parents can see a difference in their children’s engagement in learning.  We thank them all for the positive messages and encouragement we are experiencing at first hand and through social media.”

Hartshill School remains open for around 60-70 vulnerable pupils and children of keyworkers and they are experiencing the same full timetable as those based at home.