Kerrimuir Primary School students take online learning in their stride

In a testament to remote and flexible learning, children at Kerrimuir Primary School hadn't missed a beat when they returned to the classroom on Tuesday 26 May.

Principal Michael McLean said Prep to Grade 2 students continued with their classes as though there had been no interruption at the school in Box Hill.

The result was consistent with findings from research carried out on school populations after major events in the past, he said.

'Education expert Professor John Hattie looked at the impact of long periods of school closures on children after the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, and he found the children didn't regress but kept going and bounced back,' Mr McLean said.

Mr McLean said the virtual classroom had opened up new opportunities to improve teaching and learning beyond the pandemic.

For example, parents were thrilled with the use of digital platforms including SeeSaw and Google Classroom because the platforms provided more regular and specific feedback from teachers than in face-to-face classroom teaching.

'Google Classroom is here to stay – it has really opened up a lot of opportunities for learning now,' Mr McLean said.

Another cornerstone of the school's success in remote and flexible learning was the differentiated delivery of classes for all grades.

Mr McLean said research conducted into learning from home during the recent lockdown in China showed splitting classes into four made it easier for students to be grouped according to ability, and therefore more easily instructed through a digital screen.

Each class at Kerrimuir Primary School was split into four groups, with 30-minute WebEx sessions by each teacher, finishing by midday and allowing the afternoon to cover wellbeing sessions.

While this style of remote and flexible learning worked well for autonomous learners, it was challenging for young children who require a high degree of direction, guidance and support. For early years students, establishing foundations of literacy and numeracy has significant long-term benefits for learning outcomes.

The Department is working with students, teachers, principals and families to ensure lessons from remote and flexible learning are being captured and shared. 

Following an independent analysis of the experience at schools across the state, an education summit will be held in July to discuss lessons learned and investigate what improvements can be made to the education system as a result of the remote learning experience. 

Principals, teachers, parents and students can submit feedback through a community consultation survey.