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Staff and parents at Meon Junior School in Portsmouth adapted quickly to ensure that children were ready to learn during lockdown with schools closed to the majority of children. The smooth roll-out of their remote learning system saw 84% of the school logging on to live lessons on the first day and now 94% engaging regularly in live lessons with 99% of pupil remote learning.

Sara Paine, head teacher of Meon Juniors, shares how her school is thriving with live and remote learning:

“Moving lessons to live learning was nerve-wracking but we did it. We do three live teaching sessions a day, plus one additional session three times a week – bringing our school community together in assembly.

“Before the first day, I asked parents to please be patient, kind and understanding – and they delivered. My staff were terrified – from newly-qualified through to teachers with 30 years’ experience, they were nervous. This is all new, out of their comfort zone, but the parents’ positive feedback lifted their spirits.

“Our biggest challenge has been technology and learning – how to use it at such short notice. But, every day we – the teachers, parents and pupils – get better. Being part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) has been a godsend. I feel that, as a group of schools, we’re moving forward together, overcoming the technological challenges and sharing good practice.”

The school has found that, as with a school day, routine is vital. They share a timetable weekly, outlining all the remote learning and including timings for live lessons.

Sara Paine said:

“It works! It’s a huge team effort, teachers and pupils too; we’re all in it together. We are constantly reviewing, reflecting, and listening, to make changes where needed.

“Portsmouth’s leaders are close knit, and we are all in this together working towards a common goal. As a city we’re a good bunch, collaborating and sharing what works.

“Here at Meon Juniors, we’re doing it this way. We took a chance and it’s paid off.”

Despite the challenges, Portsmouth schools are reporting high levels of engagement in remote learning and staff are doing everything they can to support parents.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said:

“I am delighted with the way that parents, pupils and staff in Portsmouth have responded to the sudden challenges brought about by the current lockdown. The way they have worked together to keep the children ready to learn has been so impressive. I know it’s hard, but please keep going. Your child’s education is crucial to their future and I really appreciate your efforts. If your child is struggling to access their remote learning, please speak to their school to see how they can help you.”

There is more information about remote learning and top tips for parents at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/remotelearning