What the region’s headteachers think about the new national online Oak Academy school
HEADTEACHERS have been giving their views on The Oak Academy – a new national online school created and run by teachers to educate children during the coronavirus lockdown.
With a weekly online assembly and lessons run by 40 teachers from the country’s top-performing schools, 180 lessons a week can be accessed by teachers and parents. After opening its virtual doors on Monday the school streamed over a quarter-of-million lessons during its first day.
The News has been speaking to education leaders to get their opinions on the virtual school.
Headteacher at Crofton School, Simon Harrison, feels the new learning platform should supplement rather than replace current remote learning provision.
Mr Harrison said: ‘It looks good and will certainly be useful. However, while this is a welcome addition we’ve already worked incredibly hard to set up lessons online. We will certainly message parents and recommend some use of this resource but it will be used in addition to what we already have rather than replace it.’
While impressed with the new virtual academy, headteacher at The Cowplain School, Ian Gates, will leave its use up to the discretion of his subject teachers.
Mr Gates said: ‘I think it looks impressive but I think teachers will dip in and out and decide what to use to go with what they already have. It will certainly be useful for parents to supplement what schools are already doing.’
The academy was set up in just two weeks by teachers and organisations including Teach First and the Teaching Schools Council. Mr Gates feels the efficiency with which the profession responded is ‘in contrast to how the government have tried to put measures in place’.
‘It has been a great effort,’ added Mr Gates.
Headteacher at Horndean Technology College, Julie Summerfield, is concerned too many online platforms could potentially leave families confused.
Mrs Summerfield said: ‘It’s up to the discretion of subject specialists to look at materials and incorporate them into their planning. We will consider using it but we don’t want to overload children with too many platforms to the point where it becomes confusing.’
Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for education, Suzy Horton, feels the academy will be a useful resource, but despite the government’s pledge to issue laptops to disadvantaged children, she remains concerned about the impact of digital inequalities.
Cllr Horton said: ‘Normally projects of this magnitude would take months of planning so thanks to teachers who have created this high quality resource. Thankfully our schools stepped up to create resources for their children and they’re still best placed to direct.
‘Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if the digital support announced by the government will help many households and therefore access to this good resource will not be for everyone.’
Oak Academy will provide timetabled lessons of three hours a day for primary school students and four hours a day for secondary pupils covering English, maths, science, humanities and art.
After the success of the first day, Oak Academy headteacher, Matt Hood, said: ‘It’s truly humbling to see initial signs that this is being realised with pupils from Inverness to St Ives being supported to learn.’