Remote education framework: Evaluating your provision

Written by: Matt Freeston | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

The LEARNERs’ Trust has developed its own framework for its schools to use to evaluate the effectiveness of their remote education provision. CEO Matt Freeston explains how they are using it to identify and share good practice across the trust

As we develop our remote learning provision across the LEARNERs’ Trust – a multi-academy trust working in Rotherham, Sheffield and Derbyshire – our focus has been on understanding whether provision, regardless of how it is delivered, is effective.

Most importantly, we want to identify where and how provision can be improved.

We started by looking at the Department for Education’s framework for reviewing remote education (DfE, 2021). While the statements are relevant, for us they did not go into enough detail to really help heads and teachers pinpoint what they need to work on.

Our remote learning approach is a blended offer delivered by:

  • Teaching the same curriculum remotely as we do in school wherever possible and appropriate.
  • Pre-recorded teaching (e.g. video/audio recordings made by teachers).
  • Textbooks and reading books pupils have at home.
  • Carefully selected software supporting the teaching of specific subjects or areas, including video clips or sequences.
  • Live meetings online to check on welfare, wellbeing and provide feedback on learning activities.

In creating our own framework for reviewing remote provision, we took the DfE guidance and our risk assessment and from those devised a remote learning policy that included the following headings:

  • Overall roles and responsibilities.
  • Safeguarding.
  • Data protection.
  • Online safety.
  • Health and safety.
  • Communication.
  • School day and absence.
  • Ensuring access to remote provision.
  • Curriculum design.
  • Teaching and learning.

The order of the headings is intentional as we wanted to make sure schools had the basics right before moving on to higher level areas like curriculum design.

Once we had the component parts, we looked at each one in isolation. Under each heading we created a series of bullet points that clearly set out the responsibilities of the trust, of the heads, of staff, of pupils and of parents. For example, under the heading of communication:

  • The trust is responsible for ensuring systems for communication are implemented and fully operational.
  • Heads are responsible for ensuring a review of the effectiveness of communication takes place fortnightly and measures are put in place to address gaps or weaknesses.
  • Teachers are responsible for informing parents and pupils of changes to the remote learning arrangements or the school work set.
  • Parents are responsible for reporting technical issues as soon as possible.
  • Pupils are responsible for keeping in verbal contact with a member of teaching staff at least once per week.

The advantage of framing our policy in this way is that the bullet points become the criteria against which schools can evaluate effectiveness. By breaking it down to the micro level, heads can give each section to the person responsible and let them focus solely on the judgements and actions for their area.

Our overall aim is to create an evaluation framework for each school that gives them a complete picture of remote learning from the macro to the micro. They can pinpoint exactly how they are doing in each area and identify the areas they need to work on.

To make the framework easy to use, we transferred all the criteria into a software tool, which allowed us to RAG-rate the school against each individual statement, which then leads to an overall judgement on effectiveness in each area.

We sent a link to the framework to each head, and let them circulate it to teachers and others as relevant. They can link to evidence or write notes to support their judgement. Like most schools, ours have a range of evidence to draw on so we find it useful to capture this in one place.

The headteachers also have access to a planning tool to outline what actions they are taking to address specific criteria, who is leading on it and what the timeline is.

The advantage of this framework is that it does not give the answers, but instead prompts us to ask really good questions.

Once schools have filled in their own framework, we can overlay the information for all the schools to see where the pockets of good practice are that we want to share, and where there are common areas that we can improve.

For instance, through this process we identified that marking and feedback was an issue across schools. We were doing it well, but the workload it created was huge. Once we noticed this, we were able to work together to find a solution.

What I like about this approach is that it gives insight without needing to have in-depth conversations with each school. It is much more efficient and gives clarity. At the end of the day, it is about removing the barriers to allow teachers to get on with the really important stuff – the teaching and learning.

  • Matt Freeston is CEO of The LEARNERs’ Trust, a multi-academy trust working across Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The MAT uses the software tool iAbacus, which is currently free for schools, to evaluate its remote education response. Visit www.learnerstrust.org


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