Reimagining teaching and learning: A blended approach

Written by: Andrew Truby | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

The coronavirus lockdown has inspired a new blended approach to teaching and learning for the primary schools of the Unlimited Teaching School Alliance. Executive headteacher Andrew Truby has produced a short resource for other primary schools outlining some of the research and thinking behind their work...

The coronavirus lockdown has presented many challenges to schools. However, we have tried to seek out positive opportunities and developing our use of technology has been one example of this.

As primary schools, we noticed that a lot of the guidance was aimed at secondary level, with an assumed level of independence for the pupils with many of the online learning approaches. As such, we have worked hard to develop a remote learning offer that will meet the needs of all of our pupils throughout the primary years. I would go as far as to say that the lockdown period has done more for enhancing teachers’ digital technology skills than the many years that we spent trying to develop virtual learning platforms a decade ago.

I suppose that the necessity to take teaching and learning to a digital platform was the immediate driver. However, we are now in an exciting place where we genuinely believe that this approach can provide longer term benefits.

At the start of the lockdown, we were debating whether to pre-record or live stream lessons and, after talking to Paul Haigh, who is leading the EdTech Sheffield programme, we realised that we were looking at this the wrong way. It dawned on us that we should really see this as an opportunity to free ourselves from many of the constraints of the classroom. Once we started to reimagine what a blended teaching and learning sequence could look like, the creativity started to flow.

Teachers are now considering the learning outcomes and designing a sequence which may include some pre-recorded content as well as some independent activities and then using the live video sessions as a way of providing support to individuals or groups based on their needs.

Each teaching and learning sequence looks quite different because it is designed to suit the content or the subject area. However, there are common features too, like opportunities for pupils to collaborate and to reflect. I am hoping that we have discovered a new way of working that will change how we approach teaching when we are back in school full-time.

In recent years, we have tried to find time during the day for pre-teaching and same-day intervention, however with this blended approach, there will be some efficient ways to share carefully designed teaching video clips and great follow-up activities – and the time that we have face-to-face in the classroom can be used for maximum effect.

Like many primary schools, we were struggling to know how to approach this situation in the beginning so we have put together a one page guide to help other schools on this journey. Later this term, I will be writing further in Headteacher Update about our approaches to teaching and learning within the phased return.

  • Andrew Truby is executive headteacher and strategic lead for learning at the Unlimited Teaching School Alliance, incorporating St Wilfrid’s Primary School, St Thomas of Canterbury School, and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School.

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