Could ‘blended learning’ be the best way to get children back in school?
PUBLISHED: 13:57 10 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 10 August 2020
Suffolk education leaders have praised the idea of ‘blended learning’ as a way to get children back in school this September, despite the possibility of further Covid-19 outbreaks.
Geoff Barton, former headteacher of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds and General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), has spoken about a back-up plan in the event that a full return to school is not safe.
He said: “Our members are doing a great deal of work to put in place a very complex set of safety measures to enable that to happen.
“We are concerned about the lack of a national Plan B if there is a second wave of coronavirus and there is a second national shutdown.
“The government guidance requires schools to have in place their own contingency plans which are based on a return to remote education in the event of local closures.
“We would like to see more thought given to blended learning as a back-up plan which could be a rota system of children in for one week and then learning at home for one week – this would be better than children returning solely to remote education.”
The ASCL has said while it hopes a Plan B will not be needed, there does need to be national modelling based on scientific advice on how the idea might work so there is an “off-the-shelf” alternative plan ready if infections rise.
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Graham White from the Suffolk branch of the National Education Union (NEU) supports blended learning and believes it should be implemented sooner, not just as a back-up plan.
“I can’t see any problems with the one week on, one week off idea,” he said.
“It might be inconvenient for some parents and I accept that, but you have to look at the bigger picture which is getting children back in school.
“The smaller the so called ‘social bubble’ is the better, however the government proposal is 30 children in primary school and 200 in secondary, which are enormous numbers.
“A much smaller number of pupils enables us to have smaller bubbles and the weekly rota would allow us to do that – no solution is ideal but I think blended learning is the best way right now.”
Mr White also supports the recent 200 point ‘checklist’ of Covid-secure measures issued by the NEU and says the list is entirely reasonable.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to speak about the return to school later today.
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