Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions by parents across the whole school.
We hope these help you to understand better the service we are providing and its development.
There were five key principles that underpinned the development of our remote learning provision:
1) Maintain a balance between academic and pastoral education
2) Maintain the breadth of education, and provide opportunities for academic stretch
3) Make life manageable for pupils, parents and staff
4) Make plans sustainable, particularly post-furloughing and in the eventuality of illness
5) Establish remote ways to recognise and celebrate school community
Whilst not all will agree with these principles, and there will be inevitable conflict between some of them at times, they have guided us throughout the development of our provision.
Yes, we have had extensive discussions with other local schools and many further afield too. No two models are the same, and all schools have started with different technologies already in use. Some have had to react to the demise of their virtual learning platforms, which they had previously thought would provide a remote learning service, usually due to the scalability of the solution picked. Others have started with no existing remote learning provision and have therefore had both the challenge and opportunity of starting with a blank slate. Of course, schools also teach different age groups and hence we have also had to consider the age-appropriateness of different provisions, as well as our overall pedagogical approach.
At Dulwich Prep London, we have embraced technology over many years now. The children have become familiar with the use of iPads and apps, and indeed these are used in various subjects to facilitate and enhance learning throughout the school even when we are operating normally. This gave us a head start on some schools but also influenced the flexibility of the provision we might design ahead; we didn’t have enough time to train staff and children, as well as then parents, in how to use new technological solutions. That said, the two primary tools of Seesaw and Showbie remain absolutely fit for purpose, and indeed many schools have rolled out these tools for the first time as part of their provision. Their scalability was remarkable in that final week of term when many other technological solutions provided by other schools were failing, and they will remain at the heart of our remote learning provision.
In tandem with the new DPL @ Home, other remote tools already in use (e.g. Atom Learning and Hegarty Maths), and the subject specific guidance available to older children through the Pupil Portal, we believe that our remote learning provision is both appropriate for the age of our children in our setting and in harmony with the principles above.
Inevitably, we have not been short of opinions! In addition to the reams of guidance provided by various means, from local and national government, to institutions such as the BBC and other education providers, we have also surveyed our parents, pupils and staff.
We should probably acknowledge now that we knew we would not please everyone; many parents, for instance, found following school timetables eminently possible in the final week of term, with some asking repeatedly for more resources to keep their children occupied, whilst others felt totally discombobulated and that they were being inundated with work which it was unrealistic for each boy to be able to complete. We have therefore sought to steer a steady path accommodating as many of these opinions as possible and adjusting helpful guidance for our setting.
Whilst the opinions of our parents, pupils and staff were the most influential factors, the following guidance in particular has also shaped the thinking of our remote learning team:
The academic and pastoral teams are working together closely, as they do in school, to coordinate academic and pastoral initiatives, support and interventions. In fact, where the departments exist in Middle and Upper School, the coordination processes have been developed and enhanced specifically to address the challenges of remote learning.
Staying true to the key principles, this means that parents should expect to see their child provided with a balanced and broad curriculum which is manageable for children and parents at home. The suggested timetables therefore strike a balance between academic, community and wellbeing routines. It is also the school’s objective to ensure that the work should be completed in different ways; whilst some might be online, and almost all work might ultimately require posting online, other work will be handwritten or presented in a range of potential fashions.
The fridge sticker is a one-page view of a child’s week, which we believe (and know!) some families might wish to stick to their fridge in order to see progress and what work might remain. This offers the parents a coordinated view of the work to be completed each week by every child, as well as a view of the suggested timetable that parents might like to follow.
It also offers children and parents a simple checklist to track progress. For older children, it is hoped that they might post their self-assessment of their week to their tutors on a Friday afternoon in order to develop their metacognitive abilities which will serve them so well whilst at Dulwich Prep London and beyond. Their posts will be analysed against the teacher assessment of their progress so that commonalities and gaps can be understood, and recognised or addressed.
Whilst we had some parents who were able to use the school timetables effectively before the Easter holiday, we had many parents who found this hope unrealistic. We also now have more flexibility than we do in school, with no need to coordinate breaks and clubs, with the corresponding staff duties. Finally, we have also had to accommodate the staff working remotely, many with their own children (and often working spouses, as we know will be all too familiar), others with older or vulnerable dependents to support, and some with new technology to learn to use, both hardware and software.
This has given us the opportunity to adjust the timetable for most year groups to concentrate primarily on the subjects which should be their greatest focus for what lies ahead. For most children, this means an expectation that they will at a minimum complete the value, wellbeing, English and Maths activities each day, and these are therefore timetabled earlier in the school day to provide the most flexibility about when to complete these subjects. By doing so, the feedback process and hence adjustment of teaching for the following day will be that much smoother. Other work will of course be set, and all work completed by the children will be recorded by the school – please do let the boys know this!
For the Year 8 boys, their focus is a little different: the Scholarship and Common Entrance candidates will continue to prepare for these exams, which may still take place, and hence will follow their school timetable still. The other boys, who have already achieved record results this year, will focus on their languages and humanities so that they can make the best possible start at their respective local senior schools.
The decision about whether to follow the suggested timetable is one for each family to consider. Live lessons and activities clearly do not allow a flexible approach, which is one reason why we have not planned that many ‘live’ sessions, but creating and maintaining a routine will also help your child to thrive in this unusual academic setting.
We have tried to strike the right balance between routine and flexibility, knowing that each family will be different. It may well be that, whilst the school routine is generally followed, certain days do not lend themselves to following the suggested timetable, for instance if parents have their own working commitments. This is also a choice for parents to make. That said, following the school timetable will though facilitate the feedback process and help to ensure that children do not fall behind in their learning.
The term ‘live’ is being used differently by schools and other institutions it would seem. At Dulwich Prep London, we use this term to refer to lessons and activities (e.g. assemblies or story telling) that either take place using Zoom or in which the teacher is online at the same time as the children whilst they work. For instance, they may be commenting in a Seesaw or Showbie classroom and answering questions interactively with the boys.
With the above definition in mind, we are providing as many ‘live’ opportunities as possible whilst balancing this with parental requests for flexibility about when to complete work as well as with staff requirements to support their own families. Instead of ‘live’, there will be far more pre-recorded lessons, as was tested in the final week of last term. Where possible, recordings will be done after the previous learning and will therefore take pupil progress into consideration. In this way, we will also reduce the screen time requirement for the children who might otherwise be spending whole days online, as is the case in other educational settings. We will though continue to review the ‘live’ provision as pupils, staff and parents become more familiar with the technology, and of course with the potential implications of the pandemic for pupil, staff and parental availability in mind too.
We have decided to use Zoom because we believe it is the best tool we are aware of to support our requirements. With both the Pupil Parent School agreement and the various rules and safeguards that we have developed and trained our staff to use, as well as the overarching principles about how to work safely online and at home, we think this tool will support both the live and pre-recorded lesson types and facilitate the sharing of slides and other materials to guide learning.
We have also monitored the media coverage around Zoom since the start of the pandemic and believe, with the safeguards that we have developed, that the tool is safe for our children and families to use. For instance, using passwords and locking classrooms (not something we need to do in school of course!), together with the functionality to mute all participants on entry and limit dialogue to between teacher and pupil only, make Zoom fit for our purpose. Some of these functions also give Zoom advantages over other similar technology but we will continue to monitor this situation of course.
We considered using Google Classroom (and in fact we will continue to use some Google Classroom in certain subjects and age groups where they have been used before the school was required to operate remotely). We considered using the accompanying tool of Google Meets / Hangouts, but we do not think the tool is as fit for purpose as Zoom and it also had functionality which concerned us (e.g. live classrooms stay open even after a teacher has left allowing the children to continue discussions and post in an unsupervised fashion).
We briefly looked at other systems too, such as Firefly, Virtual Classroom and Microsoft Teams. We either felt that these were not appropriate for the ages of our children, or that the change involved was too significant to implement in the time available. Furthermore, our pupils and staff would not have been as familiar as they currently are with the use of iPads, Seesaw and Showbie. There were financial costs involved in all of these solutions too but, whilst we have been trying to save as much money as possible in the circumstances, this was not the determining factor.
The school had been hoping to remain open for as long as possible, at least until the Easter holiday. We already had children and families isolating during the second half of term and therefore we had implemented a system, familiar to the children, of using digital classrooms in the form of Seesaw (Nursery to Year 4) and Showbie (Year 5 to Year 8). This allowed the small number of children not attending school to understand what their classes were doing and to make progress accordingly.
At the same time, it became apparent from decisions in other parts of Europe that schools in the UK might also be closed and so we had already begun to design a fuller remote learning provision. Unfortunately, we received the instruction to close from Monday 23rd March onwards, an instruction given the previous week in tandem with a requirement for the school to run a provision for the children of key workers (a term which that weekend remained unclear).
With the requirement to scope this provision and with there being one week of term left, we decided not to implement significant changes to the existing remote learning provision. Instead, we used the time to coordinate the academic and pastoral provision, test some of the ideas we had developed (e.g. pre-recorded lessons), begin to plan and implement some of the cost saving mechanisms for the school, and survey our parents and staff about how to improve the service.
Middle and Upper School children continue to have access to subject portals via the Pupil Portal, the link for which is also on the school website. These tools have always included details about curriculum and subject methodologies, such as the English Study Guides and the Mathematics Toolkits. In addition to these vital resources, these sites have been updated to include guidance about working from home and ideas about other activities which might stretch your son’s academic journey (e.g. English with Pie Corbett) in each subject. These portals hence remain a key part of working remotely.
All work completed by the children will be monitored and tracked, and feedback will be provided where indicated and possible. Higher up the school, children will also be asked to update their tutors each Friday on the work that they have done that week. This pupil assessment and teacher assessment will be analysed together to identify potential inconsistencies and, more importantly, next steps. In most instances, the class teacher will be the teacher responsible for providing feedback and guidance, but other staff might also be responsible for providing feedback or contacting a family. This could include learning support teachers, tutors (where this is not the class teacher, as is most often the case in the Middle and Upper Schools) or other members of the pastoral team. There could of course be a range of reasons why completion of work is not possible.
Feedback will usually be via the class teacher and it will usually be provided via the Seesaw or Showbie digital classroom. As with work in school, staff will not necessarily feedback on all work completed by the children, and feedback could also take various different forms. The traditional provision of individual marks will sometimes be appropriate, more so in certain subjects than others, but group feedback, model answers, self-assessment, exemplar pupil work, and various other forms of feedback will also be used at different times, in an age-appropriate way and with the learning objective in mind. Rewards for completing work to a high standard or demonstrating significant effort will also continue to be used, and these will often be recognised via DPL @ Home.
As would be the case in school, if a child misses a lesson due to illness, then the teacher will help the child to catch up and provide feedback in due course. However, for the daily required work, where individual feedback from the teacher has been promised, children should submit work by 5pm on the day of the lesson in order to receive feedback. A deadline also applies to weekly expected work, with 5pm on Friday night being the usual cut off time. This will allow teachers to schedule work and feedback without a continuous stream of feedback expectation.
Yes, all work completed by the boys will be tracked in school. Where work is not completed, this will also be recorded. The response to non-completion will depend upon each individual circumstance.
This decision is yet to be made for Years 5-7. It will depend upon if and when the school can re-open in the first instance. The timing of this decision will also influence what type of exams, if any, can and should take place.
Almost all Year 6 boys and most Year 8 boys have completed their external examinations for this academic year already. For the Common Entrance and Scholarship candidates in Year 8, they may still be examined by their senior schools and hence their preparation can and will continue as if this is the case, at least until this situation changes.
Addendum: Boys in Year 5, 6 and 7 will do some summative assessment in weeks 6 and 7 in a limited number of core subjects only.
No, whilst they will be supervised by teachers and other staff, they will also primarily be using the remote learning guidance, resources and tools to learn.
As usual, the majority of support for children with learning needs will be done through differentiated teaching by the class or subject teachers. In addition to their usual support and training, the Skills and Strategies team has also worked to provide additional resources and guidance to teachers to support children with specific learning difficulties during the period of remote learning provision.
Due to the anticipated difficulty of providing learning support for younger children who have not yet received an Educational Psychologist or Occupational Therapist diagnosis, and may not ever receive one, some members of the Skills and Strategies team who support small groups of children in Pre-Prep and Lower School have been furloughed at this time. For instance, providing handwriting guidance and support for a small group of children with dyspraxic-type traits, as would happen in school, would present difficulties via a Zoom call for the children, staff and parents; the effectiveness of such an intervention would therefore be questionable.
The support for children who usually receive 1:1 support during the course of a week in school, who tend to be older and have all received a diagnosis which identifies specific learning difficulties, will still be offered by the Skills and Strategies team. In addition to the usual and additional guidance and support of their individual class and subject teachers mentioned above, all families of children with previous 1:1 support lessons across all sections will be contacted by a member of the Skills and Strategies team in the first week of term to discuss their remote working plans and challenges, and how to support their son best at home. Each boy’s specific needs and support, and their adaptation to working remotely since school closed, will be discussed in the initial email with an offer of a follow up telephone call if required. The format of support will be agreed thereafter.
Mr O’Brien will coordinate the remote learning sports programme in the coming weeks and months. In these difficult times, being active in some capacity is crucial to keeping the mind and body healthy for all boys at DPL. You’ll see from your son’s fridge sticker, each year group has an allocated slot in their week for PE and being active.
– EY – 20mins
– PP – 30mins
– LS – 30mins
– MS & US – 30mins+
These are effectively timetabled sessions and boys should try as much as possible to use the bespoke and tailor made resources we provide for this lesson in their home school day.
The focus for Early Years, Pre-Prep and Lower School is based upon the fundamentals we teach through our everyday curriculum at DPL: strength; control; balance and skill development. There are numerous fun challenges and activities for boys to try, set by Mr Stevens and all resources for these lessons will be delivered through Seesaw, our normal remote platform for these sections.
The focus for Middle and Upper Schools is based upon aerobic fitness, skill development, core strength and cognitive development. With that in mind, Mr O’Brien has split the boys’ time each Week into 3 separate pre-recorded lessons (20mins each):
– Core workout.
– Skill challenge and/or fitness circuit.
– Mind Gym (also part of pastoral wellbeing programme)
Each lesson above will be delivered via Showbie (PE and Games) and feedback is welcomed by the boys, on a weekly basis.
Above all, the boys physical development and mental wellbeing through sport is in capable hands, has been well planned and is something we hope the boys will enjoy. If parents or boys have any questions or queries, please email Mr O’Brien.
Your child does not need to register each day, but he should greet his teacher in the class Seesaw or Showbie digital classroom. This will be tracked by the school and failures to greet might be followed up by tutors, especially if it becomes a pattern.
Parents should continue to use the firstname.lastname@example.org email address to notify the school of absence. Parents might also like to let the class tutor know, either directly by email or by adding a note to the class Seesaw or Showbie thread. However, parents should note that this is a class forum and hence may be visible to other families and boys; they should not therefore include personal details.
This will differ for each family, and even for each child within a family; it is perhaps at once obvious and yet reassuring to know that there is no ‘holy grail’ about the right thing to do. The level of support will likely be greatest for younger children, but older children will still require pastoral and academic support and motivation, just as you would expect when the child is in school. The school will endeavour to do its best to support and motivate the children remotely, but each child will need support and encouragement in different ways and at different times. Should parents wish, they should approach their child’s tutor for ideas to use at home, or simply provide feedback about which school initiatives might be working and which might not.
In the first instance, please contact your son’s tutor if you feel that the level of work is too much, too little, too easy or too hard. Depending upon the year group of your child, the tutor will then be able to collate parental feedback and either respond directly or relay the message to the department(s) in question.
Rate My Week is a survey carried out by tutors in Middle and Upper School to solicit feedback from their tutees about their week. The results of this are then analysed by Heads of Section and Heads of Year. Most responses allow the school to ‘take the temperature’ of the children and see patterns across a year group or section, which can then be built into future plans or communications. Some responses may require individual follow up to understand or address issues that might have been raised. This survey has been carried out for many years in school, and continuing to do so will help the children to realise that much about remote learning is consistent with their in-school experiences.
There are no magic tips and each child will respond to the challenges and opportunities of working remotely in different ways. Some of the more subtle forms of motivation used by teachers in school, such as judicious and timely use of praise and recognition, or of encouraging healthy competition between individuals, will inevitably be somewhat harder to deploy at home; for the teacher because they will not be able to monitor and sense the progress as they would in a dynamic school classroom, and for the parents because of the somewhat inevitably different relationship parents have with their children. As always, if any parents wish to seek advice or offer feedback to the school, they should contact their class tutor in the first instance.
There are a number of excellent resources online. These are some suggestions for good places to start from our wellbeing team.
Support for parents
Support for children
Support for older children
If a pupil forgets their iPad passcode, please contact Support at once. If a pupil tries again and again, they’ll lock the iPad and would usually need to bring it into school for a factory reset (which will not be possible during lockdown).
Please check to make sure there is no obvious damage to the charging cable, especially around the joint closest to the pins. Try a different cable and wall adapter as well.
Your child’s Google login gets you access to the School’s shared drive for remote learning.
In all sections, this means that you will have access to plans for the current day and week together with form teacher videos. It also means that, should any one of the Seesaw, Showbie or Google Classroom platforms stall we have a backup solution for you.
In Middle and Upper School, your child will be able to find any lost logins to Showbie or Google Classroom.
In the lower sections (Early Years ,Pre-Prep and Lower School) the Google log in will allow your son to view the pre-recorded material posted on Seesaw. This will also be needed to access Google Drive from this site. For children in Nursery to Year 4, their Google log-in was emailed to parents on Tuesday 14th April. If you require confirmation of the log in please contact Support
All being well, the vast majority of the time it will not be needed. Almost all teaching and class communications will happen via different applications that are appropriate to your child’s age and/or subject. Seesaw is used from Nursery to Year 4 and the older boys use Showbie or Google Classroom.
The aim is to keep things as simple but as secure as possible. For those with children across different years, there is just the one log in so as long as you know one of your children’s logins you will be able to access the drive as a whole.
For Middle and Upper School pupils
If your child still knows their Google login, please look at the relevant Yeargroup page on DPL @ Home and click on “Form”. This will show you the relevant logins for each subject and teacher.
If your child has forgotten their Google login, please contact Support
For Nursery to Year 4 pupils
If your child has forgotten their Seesaw login, please email your son’s class teacher. They will be able to provide you with his ‘Text Code’ to use for log in.
If your child has forgotten their Google login or their Purplemash login, please contact Beth Pascal (b.pascal@dulwichprep …)
You need to be signed in to your child’s Google account to sign in. If you are having problems signing in, please check that you are logged on to the right account. If you already use Google then you may well need to switch accounts from yours to your child’s to gain access. If you are unsure how to switch accounts, please have a look here
If you are having problems signing in, please check that you are logged on to the right account. If you already use Google then you may well need to switch accounts from yours to your child’s to gain access.
For Google Classroom, please have a look at the instructions on the Remote Drive.
Always use your son’s QR/Textcode to log into Seesaw.
Select three grey dots in the bottle right of the screen
Select Catalog app on Ipad
Once app is opened click on search and type seesaw
Select seesaw app and click install
Both the Seesaw Family app and the Seesaw Class app allow you to see the work posted for your child. However, only the Seesaw Class app allows your son to post work and comments back to his teacher. We therefore ask that you use the Seesaw Class app for all work, going forward.
All uploads to Seesaw, whatever their format, use the same protocol. Your son needs to use the large green ‘ Add’ button top/centre. He is then asked to choose the type of upload; a file, a photo, a comment, a video. The upload is then confirmed by continuing to click on the green ‘tick’ top/right. In all sections your son should choose the correct folder to post his work to. In Early Years and Pre-Prep this should be his ‘My Work’ folder. In Lower School, your son should select the correct subject folder.
If you cannot see the app at all, please:
– Select Catalog app on Ipad
– Once the app is opened click on Search and type Zoom
– Select Zoom app and click install
We had reports from several parents where the boys iPads sat on “Processing” but the app never deploys.
When the app installation stalls like this, it usually means something like a firewall in the home setup is blocking its successful installation.
Because of the number of different ISPs, different models of home routers and various security setups, the best workaround we have found at the moment is to tether the iPad to a mobile phone just for the app installation. Once installed you can proceed to connect it back to their home router as normal.
(Tethering means making your mobile a hotspot and then connecting the iPad to the hotspot for its data. There is an article to explain how to do this here)