Knowing and understanding the needs of families of the 61 students at Narrawong District Primary School has been the key to success for remote and flexible learning by the teaching team in rural Victoria. Their approach to being responsive and flexible may provide lessons for teaching and learning that schools can use beyond the learning from home period.
In addition to weekday check-ins, Principal Kate Anderson personally hosted online chats with groups of students every Wednesday to ensure students were connected through remote and flexible learning.
The school, located in Narrawong near Portland, sent surveys to parents every two weeks to improve along the way. One result was moving phone based one-on-one meetings with each student to the online platform of Google Meet.
Ms Anderson has been leading a team of eight, including three full-time teachers and an Education Support teacher, to meet with their students face-to-face online multiple times a week when all students were learning from home.
The team were successful in remote and flexible learning based on feedback including fortnightly parent survey results, where 95 per cent of families believed learning was accessible.
Ms Anderson said wellbeing was at the forefront of everything at Narrawong District Primary School. Being a small school, supporting each other was paramount to continuity of learning.
Learning Specialist Jasmine Cunningham said all the teaching staff worked toward the common goal of ensuring students and families were fully supported.
'Our success depends on their success, so we work hard to make sure our families feel valued.'
'We have a lot of wellbeing measures for all our families, as we have learned that even our most thriving families have required support at different times, while some have not required any,' Ms Anderson said.
'Having a clearly defined pedagogical model which has been adapted to incorporate both synchronous and asynchronous learning has assisted us to achieve this and still maintain our explicit direct instruction model.'
Moving 61 students online to prevent the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) would not have been possible without swift action - setting up a reliable IT platform and providing students with devices and the internet.
'All staff worked through the entirety of the (Term 1) holidays so we were ready to be up and going,' Ms Anderson said.
The Department of Education and Training is working with students, teachers, principals and families to ensure lessons from remote and flexible learning are being captured and shared. Access resources from the Learning from Home web site and access the latest advice on the staged return to on-site schooling.
All schools in Victoria have the option to participate in the Department's learning from home student and parent surveys until 26 June. Schools interested in participating in the survey should contact ORIMA Research: