Whilst January is never an easy return following the festivities of Christmas, there have been better starts to the year than to suddenly close schools!

With assessments finished and analysed from the Autumn term, the quieter than usual Christmas no doubt created more time for some to carefully plan the classroom experiences for the Spring Term. Using all the tracking information used so far this school year, the termly plan was designed to continue to enhance catch-up opportunities for the missed learning last year. Despite the organisational restrictions in classroom delivery, the classroom stars that are our primary school teachers, provided the best learning experiences possible.

The degree to which children’s learning regained ground in the Autumn term was a testimony to the huge efforts it took. It has been a steep learning curve from the first lockdown, combined with the continuing need to educate children from home, which has clearly put schools into very different position with home learning. The barriers to learning at home are so many, so varied and so unpredictable and yet teachers have honed their expertise in providing the appropriate materials and making the best of the resources they have.


The Previous Lockdown

The return in September marked for us here at Educater a period of time helping schools. Lockdown #1 had forced tracking systems into hibernation and needed our support in resetting these. The many barriers in those early days led to tracking being, literally, the least of the school’s problems. However, it became swiftly apparent that the fallow period led to some complex problems around tracking the progress (or otherwise) of children during that period. Many schools felt forced to write off that period of time and re-start their baselines before embarking on the daunting ‘Covid catch-up’ programmes.

It is clear to see that things have changed this time round. Gavin Williamson has set minimum time for live teaching and more children are being presented for school attendance. Many schools experienced the ‘virtual visits’ from Ofsted and know that they will be asked to describe in detail how this period of time has been managed.


What is to be done with assessment and tracking this time?

Whilst many other factors have shifted, how should we be moving forward with assessment and tracking on Educater? It seems reasonable to assert that this too must be different this time, that we should have learnt much from the process so far and, above all, we do not want another hiatus in the progress records.

With the vaccine rolling out, there is the hope that schools will reopen this academic year. Handling tracking throughout this period will have a major positive influence on the re-opening of classrooms. If you are a school using star records, then keeping track of any evidence you see for learning being secured will enable the detailed gaps in learning reports to be at hand when you re-start classroom teaching for all. Bear in mind, even when children do not engage with distance learning the ‘nil’ record has a valuable role in the classroom.


Home School Benefits

There are some benefits with children that are engaging through learning at home. Reaching out for support from adults by asking pertinent questions will gain an understanding of the children’s response to key pieces of learning. Assessment of outcomes can be infinitely more accurate when accompanied by a parent’s comment that the child ‘needed me to show them the first one but then just got on by themselves’, compared to the child who ‘seemed to never have done this before and I had to do it with them’.


Here To Help

Whichever tracking method schools decide to use this term, one thing we do know is that one day, the children will be back. Avoiding the black hole of information that existed in September is something that needs active thought now. With Educater by your side, your tracking is accessible, adaptable and ultimately belongs to your school. For us here at Educater, it’s about making sure you feel confident and supported throughout this term.

Author: Karen Thompson