Our Community - Our Future

MHS Update 6-11-2020

Remote Learning focus

Welcome back everyone, I hope you managed to have a good week whatever you were doing and that you are prepared for the lockdown we currently find ourselves in. Obviously MHS will be staying open and we’re very glad of it – the goal to stay open for as long as possible and for as many students as possible lives on. Just a word on that one before moving on; a reminder that it is absolutely essential that students and staff do not attend school if they or their household members have any of the three main symptoms of a new, persistent cough, a temperature or a loss/change of the senses of taste and/or smell. If everyone followed that rule then we believe the number of occasions where students have to self-isolate would be reduced by around 40%.

However, this blog is almost entirely dedicated to explaining our plan for remote learning going forwards.

I am conscious that there is a lot here and you may want to read it in stages. However, I wanted to get the whole plan out there and explain it in one go. We’ll aim to package the key points in a more user friendly way in the days to come but as we have now settled upon a plan for remote learning I wanted to explain it here both to set out our intentions and help manage expectations.

Managing expectations is probably the most important aim of this whole blog. What follows below is our earnest intention and we will strive to deliver it, but I must ask for some patience and understanding for when we are not able to do so.

  • Firstly, as the weeks go on it is increasingly likely that staff may have to self-isolate making it harder and sometimes impossible for the teachers themselves to deliver remote lessons. Up to now we have miraculously escaped the worst if this compared to many school in Stockport, but staff absences are starting to increase and common sense would suggest that this trend will continue.
  • Secondly, when a colleague isolates another member of staff has to pick up extra duties in school which can delay their own efforts to provide remote learning.
  • Thirdly, where students are isolating due to family reasons (ie not at the direction of school) the news of when they start and stop isolating can come in at any time. It is not possible for all teachers to check the status of all students all the time, and so there can be a delay in setting up remote lessons or work on SMHW.
  • Fourthly, when school is informed of a positive case and we identify a cohort of students who have to isolate, communicating this to staff can take some time as the list of close contacts is reviewed and finalised. When the news is shared late in the evening it’s not reasonable to expect that remote learning will be fully in place by the next day.
  • Fifthly, staff are of course subject to usual illnesses as well and may not be able to set work in the normal way. Pre-Covid other colleagues would have stepped in and planned work in this situation, and whilst we will still do this the priority will need to be to set work for those in school meaning that it won't always be possible to set work for students at home. Of course students at home won't know if their teaching is ill or not, so will just need to be aware of the possibility. 
  • And finally…our now-normal covid precautions are very labour intensive and demand a lot of time from staff across the school – more duties, more time supervising forms, more moving around the one way system – all of this reduces the spare time of staff in school and therefore diminishes our flexibility as a staff.

However…please don’t see this an me moaning! Not a bit of it!! I am ambitious for our school and am amazed on a daily basis at the creativity and dedication shown by my colleagues. I have every faith that they will strive to deliver what I outline below, but my job is to protect colleagues when I need to and it is only fair to point out that there may well be times when remote lessons don’t happen, SMHW tasks arrive late or a student has a day without a hybrid lesson.

So, now that I have explained that, here’s the plan


Scenario One: If a whole class or whole year group has to isolate

We have only had to ask one Year group to isolate, and that was for four days with the very first case in late September. Since that point we have been able to speed up our response terms of live lessons:

  • On the first full day of closure work will be set for students via Show my Homework (SMHW). The intention will be that all this work will be online by 8.30am, but this will depend on when news of the closure is communicated to staff. It may be that some live lessons are possible on day one, and if so teachers will communicate this via messages on SMHW.
  • On the second full day of closure all lessons will be live streamed on Microsoft Teams. Students can see how to access Teams on the school website here
  • All lessons will continue on Teams until the isolation period ends

We are very confident that this plan works and believe that this represents a great deal for students. It is in line with best practice amongst other schools in Stockport and should enable students to keep up with their studies well. IF (and I have not been given any inside info!) schools are asked to operate on a rota with some years in and some years out, then this will be the model we operate for all groups not in school.


Scenario Two: If individual students are isolating, either due to family reasons or because school has asked them to

I have blogged a number of times now about the challenge of catering for students at home and those in the same class in school at the same time. It is without doubt much harder than scenario one above, but we believe it is our duty to keep as many students in school as possible and so if we can restrict self-isolators to as small a group as possible then we should. However, that means that we need to make sure that the students at home have instant access to as near to the same learning as their classmates. The simplest way would be just to post similar work on Show my Homework, whereas a more complicated but often more effective solution is to run ‘Hybrid’ lessons which is where students at home can ‘join’ elements or all of their real lesson live from home.

We feel that to rely solely on SMHW would lack ambition and not adequately cater for students’ needs. But, at the same time, we don’t think it possible to run hybrid lessons 100% of the time. They demand a great deal of planning and management to run, which is why some schools are not offering any at all, and for all the reasons mentioned above it’s not sustainable to offer these every lesson.

Hybrid lessons come in different shapes and sizes, and if you can bear to listen to me then here’s a narrated assembly featuring a special guest to show you what a day might look like for a student in this situation. Note that not all lessons on any day will be ‘hybrid’ – we are aiming for at least 50% but students may well be offered more.


Here are the plans for this scenario.


When students are isolating due to being told to do so by school following a positive case:

  • From the first day of absence onwards students should join their form group via Teams at 8.35am. Details on how to do this are on the narrated assembly here.
  • On the first full day of absence, work will be set on SMHW by teaching staff as early as possible in the day. We will aim for 8.30am but, given the late notice of isolations, this will often not be possible. Students must therefore check SMHW regularly throughout the day. Some lessons on day 1 may be ‘hybrid’ in which case this will either be communicated on SMHW or teachers will have told their classes in advance
  • From the second day of absence onwards students should check their SMHW after 8.30am. If lessons are not hybrid, or partially hybrid, then work will have been set for the day. If lessons are fully hybrid then there will either be a note to say so on SMHW, or students will have been told by the teacher that all their lessons are hybrid for the duration of the isolation.
  • Students can expect that every lesson will have work set, and that around 50% will be ‘live’ in one form or another


What if a student is isolating due to family reasons, not because school has told them to?

  • From the first day of absence onwards students should join their form group via Teams at 8.35am. Details on how to do this are on the narrated assembly here.
  • Work will be set on SMHW and hybrid lessons will take place as above, but we cannot guarantee that all necessary information will be on SMHW by 8.30am. This is because we cannot keep a track of the start and end of isolation periods for students in this situation – the changes are so regular that to do so would take individual teacher so long they wouldn’t be able to deliver their lessons properly either for those in school or out.
  • Where hybrid lessons are set students should join as normal, and all work on SMHW will be set.

For all of the above a much simple guide that pulls out the key information is being compiled now and will be available next week.


What if my child’s experience doesn’t match the plans above?

Firstly, if it’s almost there but not quite (eg 3 lessons have work set/Hybrid plans in place by 8.30am but the other two are a bit delayed) then please bear in mind the different directions that staff may be pulled in. However, if there are significant issues that persist for more than one day please email Lyn Lawton at lyn.lawton@marplehall.stockport.sch.uk and she will make sure the issue is looked at.

Finally, a word on devices

We have run a few surveys now to ascertain which students may not have access to a suitable device on which to complete their work at home, and have recently handed out over 70 further laptops. Whilst government stocks are running low we may be able to use school funds to help in certain cases, and so if you or someone you know needs a device please contact you child’s Head of Year asap.

Well then, there you go – a mammoth blog this week but I hope a useful one. Barring unexpected changes we anticipate running this system for the foreseeable future, and we hope that parents agree that it will provide good education for isolating students in a way that is sustainable for everyone involved.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker




Our Community - Our Future
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker
Tel: 0161 427 7966
Fax: 0161 426 0931
Email: info@marplehall.stockport.sch.uk
Safeguarding: safeguarding@marplehall.stockport.sch.uk