Hybrid Learning at Bancroft’s

During the summer term our teaching staff became proficient at distance teaching.  Event those who had little experience of Microsoft Teams or an aversion to technology became experts at conducting lessons with whole classes from the comfort of their own homes.  Since then, things have moved on.  Teachers have been presented with a new challenge: hybrid (or balanced) learning.   If we need to send any bubbles of children home to self-isolate due to a reported case of Covid, it is vitally important that the children at home continue to receive the same Bancroft’s education as members of their peer group who may still be physically attending school.

Hybrid learning has introduced our teachers to new technology.  One member of staff who has embraced this with relish is Mr Paul Dickinson, Head of the Lower School and teacher of Maths. Demonstrating the features of his Think Pad – a lightweight piece of kit which is a cross between a laptop and a tablet– his enthusiasm was palpable.  As a self-confessed lover of technology, Paul has discovered multiple uses for the Think Pad.  Its value goes beyond use when classes are being taught at home, as he uses it in his “normal” lessons all the time,  “I never need to use the machines in the classroom now, I can log in through my Think Pad, hook up to the screen and am ready to go.”

Through OneDrive, the pupils can access their text books and teacher can view class notes. Team chats allow for instant communications, not just if pupils are WFH but if they are stuck with an aspect of their homework. Paul showed how it was possible to share a child’s work with parents during a virtual Parents’ Evening. Since taking possession of his Think Pad, Paul says that he can share a record of every lesson he teaches with pupils.  Pupils too become far more accountable: any missing pieces of homework can easily be tracked. Tim Rawe, Head of E-Learning, said the Think Pad is a “great bit of adaptable kit.  It is very quick; broadcasts directly to the screens in classrooms; a teacher can easily walk around the classroom with it (when they are allowed to, of course); it interacts with Microsoft Office 365’s full suite; you can write directly on the screen, which many teachers say feels very natural.; you can mark online and easily share feedback with whole classes.”

Meanwhile, in the classroom, Ms Burridge, our Head of Geography, is teaching a lesson to the 3rds (year 7s).  With over 1/3 of the year groups isolating, her class has been much depleted.  Of her normal class of 22, only twelve are in school today.  Ms Burridge is clearly totally at ease with the technology. In a lesson dedicated to map projections she switches seamlessly between addressing the class and addressing pupils at home, sharing a video and making use of a worksheet she had sent on a class Microsoft Teams chat.  Responses are elected from those studying at home as well as those in class and it would appear everyone is engaged and included.  At one point she turns her camera round and encourages the children in school to bring their flattened out world maps, which they had drawn on a satsuma, to the camera so that those at home can vote for the most successful. Not all of the Thirds had previously experienced interactive on-line learning in the summer, but they have clearly taken to it well even though, as Caitlin said from home, “It’s quite annoying as most of us enjoy school but hope to be back soon!”

At  Bancroft’s we are really trying to push the envelope with what can be achieved through hybrid and distance learning. So far our teachers have risen to many challenges but know we will continue to face more.

Tim Rawe, Head of E-Learning

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