When the first lockdown began, Falinge Park was in a good position to adapt to remote learning.
For some time, students at the Rochdale secondary school had been using Chromebooks and the web-based Google Classroom system.
“This meant we weren’t stung as much as perhaps other schools were,” explains headteacher Janice Allen. “We were able to move quite quickly in supporting children’s digital connectivity.”
With every school experimenting with different methods of home schooling, the team at Falinge Park realised that live learning, led by a classroom teacher, was the approach that resulted in the greatest engagement from students.
“Oak National Academy is good, but it’s not your curriculum and it’s not your teachers,” says Janice.
The school swiftly set about creating its own online learning system, i-college, that would allow pupils to interact with their teachers, even when stuck at home.
And it soon became clear that such a system would have benefits that lasted far beyond the pandemic.
“We thought that it would work well for children who may be suffering from anxiety, who may be ill, or who may be struggling with school in some way,” says Janice. “It could also help children who had been excluded or had missed out on learning for some other reason.”
Beginning with Key Stage 4, a new base website was constructed, containing video lessons and exercises, all delivered by classroom teachers and closely aligned to the school’s curriculum.