Agenda item

Blended Learning Assessment

To receive details of the Blended learning and catch-up curriculum strategies adopted by Croydon Schools to support pupil progress.


The Interim Director of Education presented the item by introducing the Head Teacher’s from various schools in the Borough that had been invited to give their perspectives on blended learning and what had worked or hadn’t worked for their individual schools.


Discussions took place on what opportunities could be carried forward from the virtual way of delivering education. Guests in attendance from schools for Special Educational Needs children stated that there had been challenges due to varying levels of needs.  The schools had remained opened for children whilst still providing remote learning for days that the children were not in. Online resources were made available to families which were tailored to different needs or individual children.


A Guest in attendance on behalf of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) said that a lot of investment had gone into establishing a learning platform which worked very well and the virtual access to learning had proved invaluable as many of the children were engaging in ways they may not necessarily have had they had to attend school. Take up on engagement with virtual learning was high with students producing good work. There were however difficulties with new young people that had moved into the borough and being able to engage and establish a relationship under these conditions.

Other Guests commented that the focus had also been to ensure that there were opportunities for creative learning and practical activities for children to do so as to limit some of the time spent on screens. Teachers were proactive on feedback and marking of work and children were responding to those comments and making improvements were necessary.


All in attendance had experienced issues with delay in provision of laptop devices for learning and it was asked to what extent issues were experienced and how many young people were without devices. Officers said that in the first lockdown there had been delays and the DfE asked Local Authorities to lead on provision and they calculated the number of devices they would supply. This second lockdown schools had been charged with applying directly and were allocated a number of laptops. There was still a gap as schools have had to use their own devices or invite children to come into schools where they have identified issues with access. The voluntary sector and local communities had been invaluable in the support they had provided. There would however still be cases of families where children were working on phones and schools have ensured good oversight in understanding and responding to circumstances of families. It was disappointing that Infant schools had not been included in the allocation of devices and many had to commission their own school based laptops to families.


A Guest said that whilst there were issues with supply of learning devices, the problems experienced by families was also about provision of training on usage. Schools have had to invest in the infrastructure and systems to guide families on using devices safely and appropriately. More work was needed on engagement and empowering parents who may have difficulties due to varying barriers such as language, on use of devices and technology.


It was further commented by a Member that some families had children with varying needs and what consideration was being given to supporting needs.

Guests informed the Sub-Committee that various methods were established in different schools. Families with children that had been identified as requiring additional support such as children with learning disabilities had invitations extended for the children to conduct their remote learning at school. There was also provision of family learning activities that parents can do with their children. In order to support parents, drop in sessions were being offered as well as welfare calls every week to find out how remote learning was progressing. Behaviour specialists were also in contact with families to provide advice and additional support and families can self refer to the liaison officer if they require extra help.


A Point of discussion was on what provision was in place to ameliorate isolation, uncertainty and anxiety experiences by children and families.

Guests stressed the importance of larger community solution with issues faced by families as a result of the pandemic such as financial and housing.

A Guest commented on the work that was being done as part of the Croydon Trauma Partnership who provide drop in services such as counselling for parents as well as children. They also delivered outreach doorstep visits and that the service had been invaluable to the schools that were part of the partnership. It was important to invest in human resource that could be made available across the whole of the borough.


During discussions on resourcing for staff  and ensuring that their wellbeing remained a priority, Members learned that staff had been provided with additional training during the end of the summer term to prepare them for further lockdowns and increased instances of remote learning


In response to a Member question on how the current remote learning style would impact the catch up programme that had been established, the Interim Director of Education responded that these were the conversations that were currently taking place across the directorate and going forward with all head teachers. Further exploration of this was needed as to what the curriculum should look like, and what the vision was for education. The focus should be on teacher assessment and working with children to fill in the gaps in terms of curriculum. This had changed since the report was written and the directorate must continuously adapt to the emerging picture and responding to the long term impact on children. It was pointed out that a concern for the future echoed by many heads was the lack of clarify on the appropriate model for remote leaning. There was disparity across schools as to the interpretation and meaning of the term as this greatly impacts on workload. Clarity was needed from the Department for Education on what remote learning should look like as the current expectation of teachers who were been given so much to do was currently not sustainable


The Chair thanked the Head Teachers in attendance on behalf of the Sub-Committee for their engagement in this extremely valuable discussions and stated their responses to the challenge in such difficult and uncertain circumstances was heartening. They were thanked for all the work they were doing for the children and families of Croydon


The Interim Director of Education also extended thanks to the Head Teachers for joining the meeting and the impressive way that they had approached the challenges presented by the pandemic over the course of the last year. The different context and approaches adopted by each school in this large and complex borough was acknowledged and praised alongside maintenance of line of sight of welfare of teachers and all staff in schools.



In reaching its recommendations Sub-Committee came to the following Conclusions:

  1. The attendance and contribution of the Head Teachers was welcomed and positive.
  2. It was clear that whilst there were issues with provision and availability of suitable devices to support virtual learning, the importance of resources to strengthen parental engagement and ability to support their child/children must remain an area of focus and priority.
  3. It was concerning and disappointing that Infants section of schools had not been included in the Department for Educations roll out of devices for schools.
  4. In looking forward, it was important that the department prioritise measuring of inequality on attainment gaps as a consequence of the pandemic and explore ways to address the gaps identified.
  5. Direction was needed from the Department for Education on clarification of the terminology of remote working as it was evident that there were differences in interpretation in different institutions.

The Sub-Committee Recommended that:

  1. That a means be found to measure the inequalities in attainment gap caused by the pandemic and that focussed evidenced efforts are made to close the gap over time.
  2. That the number of children who do not have access to the necessary equipment for remote learning are quantified, especially for those in Secondary schools, and that closing that gap is made a priority.


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