We caught up with Paul Ryle, Headteacher at Mellis CE Primary School to see how the have been using DB Primary to deliver online learning throughout school closures.
They have been DB Primary users for over 8 years, so when school suddenly closed in March 2020, they already had the perfect solution in place to continue teaching remotely.
What is the biggest benefit DB Primary provides your school?
Currently, it is vital that we are able to put a variety of learning provisions in place for those home schooling during this pandemic. It also allows critical social interaction between the children, and the safe ability for teachers and TAs to communicate with parents and children about their learning.
What were the main reasons behind your original purchase of DB Primary?
To explore the possibilities around remote learning, and to host our school website.
How has your use of DB Primary changed throughout the last few months?
It has become the unifying thread for all learning provisions. We have seen great engagement with the platform, with the overwhelming majority (90%+) of children accessing it daily. It has also provided a very useful focus when looking after key worker and vulnerable children during the pandemic.
What do you think is the most important aspect of DB Primary?
Without a doubt the remote classroom tools! DB primary is our contingency plan for learning if we have to shut down an entire class or if a pupil has to quarantine or while awaiting a test.
How have the children engaged with DB Primary to supplement their learning?
The children of the school have made extensive use of the forums and blogs to communicate with each other and by doing so have maintained the vital social contact that school provides. The increased use of the DB Primary has naturally made children more confident with accessing IT tools and procedures in the wider support of their learning.
What has been the impact of using DB Primary?
When the order to close schools came, we were able to seamlessly transition from a real school to a virtual school overnight. We closed on Friday and reopened virtually for all year groups on Monday. We were also able to upload a wide variety of resources and activities so that all year groups had year specific work to do. It is evident from the emails received that the School’s provision of learning during this difficult time has been really appreciated by parents and even pupils(!), and the provision we have been able to offer has evidently compared extremely favourably compared to many other local schools.
How have the teachers used DB to teach compliment their teaching and teach remotely?
Teachers have been remarkably quick to adapt to using the platform, and it has been the key resource used. The ability to communicate with pupils at group and individual level, at times that worked for teachers, proved very useful for those colleagues juggling work with a young family. It has developed IT skills and has been a very useful boost to using technology to enhance learning.
How do you anticipate using the platform to help with the transition back into school?
During this complicated transition time, we will be both delivering conventional learning within the classroom, and also maintaining platform provision for the year groups not yet eligible to as well as those choosing not to return in the interim. We are therefore able to offer continued provision to all pupils while in the transition phase. Importantly, colleagues are also using it for pastoral care and communicating with those pupils and families who may be facing issues returning to school from lock down.
How do you think your use of the platform will change when schools fully return?
It is scheduled to be our standard method for setting homework and associated projects, which is something I have wanted to happen for a while. We will also look to utilising it for mainstream lessons. The advantage of everyone having to use it is that now everyone knows how, and equally as importantly, is motivated to do so.
More importantly DB Primary means we have the perfect contingency plan for teaching remotely as and when we need to.
How will you use the platform to underpin the importance of online safety as part of the curriculum?
We have encouraged safe usage of the platform in many different ways, including appropriate manners and language on emails and forums for example. Children have had the advantage of trying out their online safety learning in a safe but practical way. We would note that we have had very few instances at all of transgressions in this regard.