Students at our four high schools - Springwood, St Clement's, Marshland, and Smithdon - have been given a helping hand with lockdown learning courtesy of the Knowledge Organiser book system which is assisting remote schooling.
The system was already scheduled for introduction before lockdown, but has proved to be an even wiser investment in the current environment.
“This was a resource which we had planned to use across the trust this year anyway and distribute to all students,” said our head of secondary standards, John Hirst, who is also Smithdon’s head teacher.
“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 linked to the Knowledge Rich curriculum, which is where the curriculum is defined in terms of specific subject knowledge to be mastered, and are already being used nationwide.
Subject teachers across the Trust collaborated on 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, he 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.
“In the first lockdown teachers had to learn how to use new technology and prepare lessons for distance learning,” said Hirst. “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.”