The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant disruption to our education system - on the one hand, it has turbo-charged the development of remote learning solutions; but on the other hand, it has presented many new challenges and dramatically shaken up the way our children are taught.
At Tribal we have watched with admiration as our colleagues in schools around the world have responded to the challenges they faced. We have seen teachers and pupils learn new skills and invent new ways of teaching and learning. We have been privileged to lead inspection and evaluation programmes that have given us the opportunity to study and be part of, first-hand, the features of successful distance learning provision and how distance learning can be integrated successfully with other modes of teaching and learning.
The following article introduces a new accreditation for schools and settings that has been designed to help educators go beyond ‘the basics’ to deliver highly effective remote learning. It provides enhanced quality assurance, guidance, and support for schools as they incorporate aspects of remote education into their future provision. We share the detail of some of the component elements of the accreditation as we seek to help schools and settings to drive continuous improvement in education provision.
The need for this accreditation framework
Tribal’s Remote Learning Accreditation provides school leaders with a comprehensive framework that enables them to systematically design and develop high-quality distance learning provisions. It also provides governors, trustees, and senior leaders with a robust evaluation framework for measuring and monitoring the successful implementation of distance learning strategies.
In developing the Remote Learning Accreditation, we have taken account of key reports from trusted organisations in addition to our own interactions with schools. Our experiences and research all point towards one conclusion – distance learning methods are very likely to continue to be a key strategy for delivering teaching and learning for the foreseeable future. For example, in January 2021 Ofsted stated:
“…Remote education matters. Until mass vaccination is achieved, local lockdowns, class and year group bubbles and individuals self-isolating are likely to remain part of daily life. This will have a continuing impact on schools’ capabilities in delivering a broad and balanced curriculum to all pupils. Schools are likely to continue to rely on remote solutions to provide coverage and mitigate against learning loss. Furthermore, evidence from our interim visits suggests that given the amount of time and resources that school leaders have placed into developing their remote solutions over the past 10 months, it is likely that schools will incorporate aspects of remote education into their teaching after the pandemic…”
The design of the Remote Learning Accreditation aligns closely to best-practice models we have identified through school improvement and inspection. The Accreditation structure is also carefully designed to deliver the recommendations for successful distance learning solutions made by world-renowned agencies, including:
- UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition
- Beijing Normal University and UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education
- Australian Council for Educational
The structure of the Accreditation
The Accreditation is structured into 10 interconnected elements. Each element focuses on a key aspect of effective remote learning provision and identifies the key strategic development areas that enable high-quality provision to be delivered. The 10 elements are:
- Leadership and Management
- The Delivery of Remote Learning
- The Quality of Remote Learning
- Assessment for Learning
- The Student Experience
- Staff Experience
- Parent Voice
- Access for All
- Value for Money
Each of the above elements has between four to six criteria against which the quality of provision can be measured. In the table below we explain three of the elements in more detail and describe the criteria which have been identified as indicators of high-quality provision.
The Accreditation’s self-evaluation tool will confirm that the best practice guidelines and advice are in place to help students stay safe when they are engaged in remote learning. The criteria identify the key role teachers play in ensuring Learners’ safety and well-being. If necessary, schools’ existing safeguarding and wellbeing policies can be updated to ensure coverage in the context of remote learning.
· Learners have guidelines and age-appropriate advice which helps them stay safe and maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are engaged in distance learning.
· Learners know what to do and who to contact should they feel unsafe or concerned about their safety or wellbeing.
· All staff monitor the safeguarding and well-being of all learners. They keep accurate records and take decisive action to ensure Learners are kept safe.
· Stakeholders are informed about the school’s safeguarding policies and process and know how to support their children’s safeguarding and wellbeing during distance learning provision.
The quality of remote learning
Assuring the quality of the remote learning offer is the overarching aim of the Remote Learning Accreditation process. Within this element, attention is paid to the key strategies that contribute to quality assurance on an ongoing basis. The focus is on having effective quality assurance processes in place that identify where improvements are possible so that targeted developments can be put in place.
· The teaching and learning methods made available take account of Learners’ individual learning needs. When appropriate, Learners have choices in how they learn and are supported to become independent.
· Teachers help Learners develop the skills they need to access the distance learning provision.
· Teachers’ evaluation of delivery supports next steps in learners’ development.
· Teachers raise concerns where remote learning presents challenges and work with leadership to ensure the offer is inclusive.
Access for All
Schools audit their accessibility policies to ensure they are extended and adapted to take account of distance learning methods. The criteria provide a focus on the provision that takes account of students’ individual and special learning needs. They check that monitoring attendance and engagement takes place so that any gaps (in technology, or access for other reasons) are picked up quickly, and that appropriate resources are available to Learners.
· Teachers plan distance learning provision which is inclusive of the needs of all Learners, particularly those vulnerable groups or those identified as having special educational needs.
· Teachers take steps to increase equality of access to distance learning by developing flexible methods for Learners to take part in learning activities.
· Teachers promote and monitor attendance and engagement in distance learning provision for all Learners acting on findings to support engagement.
· The school takes steps to provide disadvantaged Learners with the necessary equipment and resources.
Tribal’s Remote Learning Accreditation enables schools to consolidate, improve and celebrate best practices in distance learning. It provides school leaders with a comprehensive framework on which to base their self-evaluation and development planning. The framework identifies and shares the common features of successful remote learning provision that we have identified from our study of reliable international research and our first-hand interactions with successful schools. The accreditation takes account of the needs of all stakeholders and enables schools to build on the recent gains schools have made in developing and deploying new and innovative ways of teaching and learning.
NB: Existing Quality Mark schools are eligible for a 30% discount on the 2 year accreditation fee. Contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Author: Cliff Mainey, Principal Inspector and Education Specialist, Tribal Group
Cliff has worked as a teacher, school leader, and school inspector for nearly 30 years. For 20 years, Cliff taught information and communication technology (ICT) and took senior leadership roles in the development and use of ICT in schools, including developing distance learning provision. Cliff has inspected schools in the UK and internationally since 2008. In 2020 he was the Principal Inspector responsible for leading the inspections of distance learning provision in 112 schools. In addition to leading the inspection programme, Cliff was also responsible for identifying best practices in distance learning and reporting the programme’s outcomes to government bodies.
WATCH: An introduction to Quality Mark
Quality Mark's National Director, Nicola Morris, gives an overview of the internationally acknowledged accreditation programme for the improvement of English and maths provision, including: how it guides sustainable continuous improvement; what it means for your stakeholders; an outline of the audit tool, and details of the support mechanisms to help you on your organisation's improvement journey.
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