Remote Learning: An End to Snow Days?

The pandemic has seen a fundamental change in the way education has been delivered in the UK for the past year. Whilst some schools or education establishments have delivered lessons remotely for some time, the mainstream education system was all about face-to-face lessons, with ratios ranging anywhere from 1 to 1 up to 1 to 35.

In the past year we have seen lessons delivered through websites or Google Classroom using worksheets and resources, lessons delivered through Google Meet or Zoom, all while schools remained open with smaller cohorts of keyworker and vulnerable children.

The guidance on how and when the learning was to be delivered was minimal at best which resulted in every school or trust creating their own versions and delivering learning in the best way they could. It is a true credit to the teaching profession that people who have never had to deliver lessons in any way other than face-to-face, in front of a classroom of children, were suddenly delivering lessons remotely with parents sitting in, looking and listening to everything that was said or done.

We have all experienced that moment when someone is watching you type and suddenly your fingers take on a life of their own and you mistype every word and even get the correction wrong. Having someone sit and watch everything you are doing is very unnerving even for a short while. Teachers have been enduring this for months with no prior warning and very little training, if any. It’s one thing have a peer review and feedback on a lesson to help you improve but it’s quite another to have a parent who has never taught doing the same thing.

The sheer effort and success of home learning rests with each individual that has had to adapt and deliver in a way they would never have expected when they were completing teacher training. So here’s to each and every one of you! As a parent to two children, who has had to adapt to home learning, I can honestly say we are delighted to have our children back with the professionals. Without you our children would be the first generation that learned lessons based on what mum or dad could find on the internet (I’m still not certain what a subordinate clause is or bus stop method).

With children back where they belong, we begin to look ahead to the future and how the last year may have lasting effects on how we deliver education moving forward. With the DfE making it mandatory to publish home learning on school websites, (just as we were starting to look towards the future without Covid or remote learning), it begs the question is it here to stay?

If we put to one side the potential impact on teachers’ workloads, mental health and well-being then sure, we can see some benefits of having remote learning on the website at all times. However, staff working at schools have had to put their health and those they live with and care about at risk by continuing to work during this past year, with the children of people who are on the front line, who are most likely to be exposed to Covid.

Having access to remote learning at all times will require teachers to adapt lessons for online learning. Whilst I can see this will help people with medical conditions that prevent them from attending school every day, this is a relatively small number and schools already adapt to those situations.

It feels rather like the only thing it is likely to put a stop to is everyone’s favourite snow day. With online learning there is no need to have a day off, we just revert to remote learning until the snow has thawed. As someone who is still very much a big kid at heart, I find it incredibly hard to believe that we would potentially deprive future generations of the fabled snow day.

Waking up to find your parents listening to the radio, desperately hoping not to hear your school’s name listed as being closed, whilst you desperately hope that your school name would be read out, the anticipation nearly killing you as you shush your sibling in case you miss it. Then that moment when you hear your school mentioned and you jump, scream and hug the sibling who, only a moment ago, you were trying to suffocate to stop them making noise (presumably they licked your hand to get you to remove it from their face).

Knowing that today was not a day for school work but actually a day for making a snowman (or half making it before descending into a snowball fight). Playing with children you don’t normally play with, so you can have a giant snowball fight, someone calling a pause so your elderly neighbour could pass on their way to the shop, only for her to get in a cheeky shot at you.

Ending the day frozen solid, in soaking wet clothes and exhausted while mum makes hot chocolates with cream and marshmallows.

Snow days are the stuff of legend!!

Remote learning has certainly been vital this past year and including technology in the curriculum is going to grow in importance as the years roll by, but let’s not deprive children of that sacred snow day! As we have grown older, we may have started to find the snow frustrating or inconvenient but we all got into education to make a difference to the children of this world, let’s not forget what made a difference to our lives when we were young. It’s always the memories of those great days that didn’t come around very often.

Remote learning is a phenomenal tool that will greatly benefit the education sector, however, let’s not sacrifice life experience and staff well-being in order to deliver it.

If you would like any support with remote learning, your website, or training then please contact the Business Development team on 0208 249 6900 (option 1).