Harlands Primary School in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, have been long-standing customers of New Era and have used DB Primary throughout the school for over 5 years. This placed them in very good stead when lockdown was announced at very short notice. Not only did they have a learning platform that the teachers and children were familiar with but they also had access to invaluable communication and collaboration tools. These resources enabled them to sustain good quality interaction with pupils throughout lockdown and enabled for continuity of learning.
How the teachers used DB Primary during lockdown.
At Harlands, each year group has their own community, which is essentially a year group website with enhanced functionality and added security. It becomes the class communication centre and remote network. Teachers (and administrators) will post all things useful to the year group in their particular community from letters of interest e.g. trips, swimming to home learning – and children know exactly where they can access it. This well-established practice enabled the school to utilize its benefits during lockdown and a massive switch to online learning. It went from being an added bonus to being a tool on which the school relied. Children’s learning activities were set, collected and responded to via the platform.
The platform has ready-made content, which proved useful for the school. But equally important was the ability for teachers to create their very own online activities including, but not limited to crosswords, cloze procedures, multiple choice quizzes and spelling activities.
All the teachers know the platform well now and have found it easy to use. One of the significant benefits is the flexibility and sophistication that enables teachers to do what they need and yet its simplicity for children. As a primary specific platform, it has been easy for children from reception up to access readily with a little support.
How the children have used DB Primary.
Like the teachers, the children were well-prepared for lockdown already being familiar with the platform. The school took a cautious approach and encouraged children, however, there was no insistence that they engaged online due to the inequality of provision out of school. Even so, a significant proportion of the children did engage, and they responded well.
The children not only accessed and completed work set by the teachers, but they used the platform as a means of keeping in touch with their peers and friends. This was both via the formal lines of communication established by class teachers, through forum and blogs, and also via personalized communication using the inbuilt safe mail tool and their personal pages. This opportunity to maintain connections with peers was incredibly important during this time when it was so easy to become isolated.
The wide range of online safety tools that the platform provides by default is a significant factor in the school choosing DB Primary to support children’s understanding and practice developing appropriate online behaviours.
The platform has enabled learning to continue during lockdown, but more importantly it has supported children’s well-being and maintained community. Teachers and children have been able to stay in touch in a safe, secure, primary-focused online environment.
The school will be continuing its work on DB Primary as it welcomes more children back to school. In the longer-term, their experiences and familiarity with the system over the past few months will enable them to expand their use and reach.
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