ONLINE LEARNING POLICY

Overview 

St George International School & Preschool is a school which recognises that in order to follow our academic planning and implementation for the whole school and to facilitate its learning and academic development, of all learners, we must provide remote, and virtual learning to all of our pupils enrolled at the school. 

We are a school which considers the challenges to remote learning, while looking to provide the most up to date (and as accessible as possible) platforms which offers all learners the chance to have an access to education, if in-class teaching and learning is no possible. We look to reduce the impact on out of normal class situations with learning and will constantly review our procedures in order to provide a curriculum with a breadth and depth of learning for the International Cambridge Curriculum and the Bulgarian Curriculum and standards. 

We have and continue to support all parents, carers and students who are part of the St George International School & Preschool community. This policy is for all of the staff employed by SGIS and SGP and it acknowledges the impacts and possible difficulties faced by not having the children in school. 

Aims

This remote learning policy for staff aims to:

  • Ensure consistency in the approach to remote learning for pupils who aren’t in school;
  • Set out expectations for all members of the school community with regards to remote learning;
  • Provide appropriate guidelines for data protection.

Measures for quick and easy transition from attendance learning to remote learning in electronic environment

Legal grounds – Preschool and School Education Act, Provision No. 10/ 2016 regarding the organisation of the activities in the school education.

The measures are undertaken by the teachers in the school in the following cases:

  • Pursuant to a decision by the Regional Health Inspection when the students from a certain class are quarantined because of a positive PCR test of one of the students from this class, the learning shall be performed remotely, by using the resources of the informational and communication technologies. 
  • In case several classes or all classes are quarantined by the Regional Health Inspection, the students continue their learning remotely, according to the already approved or a new timetable for the period of the quarantine, and after the end of the quarantine they return to the School.
  • Pursuant to a decision of the Regional Health Inspection when a teacher is suspended from work due to a positive PCR test result, and if the teacher had exposed contact with the students from a certain class, these students continue their learning remotely, following the approved weekly timetable for the period of the quarantine, after the end of which they would back to the School.
  • In case of distance work or leave from a teacher with a positive PCR test result, who teaches one or more classes, and in case of with students from one or more classes, the students from all exposed classes/groups will learn remotely for the period of the quarantine and thereafter return to the School (after completion of the quarantine period). 
  • In case the competent authorities of the settlement, region or the state announces emergency situation, or in case of extraordinary or unforeseen circumstances, the students in the schools within the respective settlement, region or the whole state learn remotely for the period of the emergency situation or of the extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances, and after the end of this period they return to school.

Steps in case of situations as per item 1 to item 5, inclusive: 

  • Information by a parent/ guardian for a positive PCR test of a student from class.
  • The Manager Hygiene and Health Care informs the Regional Health Inspection and provides the information required by the Regional Health Inspectorate;
  • The Head of Administration informs by e-mail the parents/guardians of the students from the class for continuing of the education in electronic environment, remotely, for the organisation of the learning process, and the organisation of picking up the students’ books from the school;
  • The Head of the School issues an order which includes: determining the class liable to remote learning, the way of the remote learning, creation of organisation to provide the teachers with the technical resources to carry out the remote teaching, creation of organisation for teachers’ substitution in certain academic subjects (if necessary), duration of the lessons.

The remote learning includes remotely conducted lessons, self-preparation, current feedback for the learning results and assessment. In case a student is absent from the online lessons the parents/guardians receive a notification from Reception at the end of the day. 

Online learning is performed simultaneously or in case it is impossible – non-simultaneously. In case of simultaneous learning – the online lessons include simultaneous lesson and interaction between the teacher and the student and current feedback, current assessment is performed during this type of learning. 

Non-simultaneous learning includes observing the lesson without interaction with the teacher and the other students, and in this case the assessment for this period is not formal and in case required current feedback and current assessment is performed but only in simultaneous interaction. In both cases the learning progress is tracked, and feedback for the student progress is provided to the parents/guardians. 

It should be taken into account that the daily timetable might change in case of simultaneous online learning, and the duration of the remote learning lesson for all stages of education should not exceed:

  • Twenty minutes – for Primary;
  • Thirty minutes – for Lower Secondary;
  • Forty minutes – for Upper Secondary;

Students have a break after each lesson. The brakes between the lessons in the school are defined by the Head of the School and they last not less than 10 minutes and not more than 30 minutes. The Head of School provides at least one break which is not less than 20 minutes. 

In case of non-simultaneous online learning the duration of the online lessons should not exceed the duration of the lessons set out in the daily timetable. After the expiration of the quarantine the students return to school.

Transition to online learning for a particular student is allowed in two cases:

  • Following a request by the student’s parents/guardians submitted as per art. 12, para. 2 by the Preschool and School Education Act and an order by the Head of the School, in case the necessary technical and technological prerequisites are present, for a period not longer than 30 school days, for a student who is unable to attend school, due to health or other valid reasons which are certified by a document.

In this case, and also for the period of the online learning, the student is not liable to stringent assessment, although his progress is monitored, and the form of learning is not changed. Learning is administered by means of a camera and a microphone, with the camera forward facing towards the whiteboard. In case the school is not able to provide the student with the option to observe the lesson of the respective class, the student is allowed to observe the lesson (or a recording of the lesson) of another class of the same age group.

  • In case of announced emergency epidemic situation, when the attendance learning in the school is ceased, in case the necessary technical and technological resources are present, the online learning may be performed for an individual student for more than 30 school days until the end of the emergency situation:
  1. If due to health reasons, certified by a medical document, the student attendance in the school would put in risk his/her life or health;
  2. If due to health reasons, certified by a medical document, the student attendance in the school would put in risk the life or the health of people with whom he/she lives at the same address;

For the needs of the online learning in the above two cases, the student submits an application to the Head of School in compliance with art. 12, para. 2 of the Preschool and School Education Act. A declaration of the parents ensuring the necessary conditions for the online learning and a medical document are enclosed to the application in accordance with the Directions for work of the system of the school education during 2020-2021 academic year in the conditions of COVID-19.

  • Upon student’s or parent’s choice under the conditions of art. 12, para. 2 by the Preschool and School Education Act and after a permission by the Head of the Regional Education Department.

The student ensures the necessary technical and technological resources in order to take part in the online learning, and in case the student is a minor, these resources are provided by the parents/guardians. The parents/ guardians of minor students provide to the School an email address for contact with the student, and the students above 14 years access the online learning by e-mail, provided by the School.

Online learning commences in 7 /seven/ days from the date of submission of the application. The online learning is performed by means of a camera and a microphone, as the camera in the classroom would be turned to the whiteboard. In case the school is not able to provide to the student the option to observe the lesson of the respective class, the student is allowed to observe the lesson (or a recording of the lesson) of another class of the same age group. 

When an application for online learning (pursuant to art. 40d, para. 1 and art. 40e, para. 1 by the Preschool and School Education Act) has been filed and until the permission for transition to online learning is issued the student may not attend the classes in the school, and the school provides him/her online general support in the respective subjects. 

In any cases online learning for an individual student is ceased in the following cases:

  1. Upon student’s choice under the conditions of art. 12, para. 2 by the Preschool and School Education Act;
  2. In case of absence for more than 5 school days without a good reason or has not engaged with the learning process;
  3. In case of failure to fulfil the undertaken obligations by the parent/guardian with the declaration under art. 40d, para. 1 and under art. 40e, para. 1 by the Preschool and School Education Act.

The student’s individual online learning is ceased for the period of online learning of the student’s class in case when attendance in the school/class has been ceased, and the student learns with his/ her class for this period.

Assessment

When a student under art. 6.2. learns online, the school conducts online lessons, current feedback and assessment in the academic subjects from section A and section B of the school plan, and in case this is possible – under section C also. 

Roles and responsibilities

All staff have a moral duty and an important role and safeguarding provision of all learners at the school. This includes all phases from the lower school, all the way through to upper secondary and A – Level students. It is our duty, and we are obliged to provide a curriculum which is planned and well executed. No child should feel that they are at a disadvantaged to online learning. If this does become apparent then we, as educators, must inform our line management team in order to deal with such circumstances and to provide intervention to solve any potential issues. 

All persons responsible include: 

  1. Pastoral leads (e.g. heads of phase or year);
  2. SENCOs;
  3. Support Staff;
  4. Teachers;
  5. All lead academics;
  6. Head of School;
  7. CEO;
  8. Governing Board.

Teachers

When providing remote learning, teachers must be available within their normal working hours from 8 am until 5 pm. These hours are focused on academic and allocated times, as per the timetabling arrangements of the Head of School. Lessons must be taught in an effective and thorough manner with a strong emphasis on the quality teaching and learning online. All work must be presented to pupils in online lessons and in attendance, as well as those who are not online for any given reason (sickness, essential travel etc). All teaching staff must produce planning in the same way as advised and delivered while on the school’s premises. There are no changes in regards to regular planning, to the head of school, and therefore ensuring that all units, and curriculum goals are met. When working from home you must as an employee of the school meet learning/lesson objectives and look to meet curriculum outcomes, including target setting. Homework must be provided at the discretion of the relevant Heads of teams and/or SMT. Catch up materials and planning for periods of absence must be visible to line managers and the senior management team. All learners must be supported, and their needs sufficiently met. Class Masters as well as subject teachers have absolute responsibility for the delivery of the educational programme, while also considering the safeguarding and pastoral care of all students.  

If teaching staff are unable to work for any reason during this time, for example due to sickness or caring for a dependent, they should report this using the normal absence procedure and refer to the school’s absence and sickness policy for further clarification. Periods of absence, at any given time, must be informed to the senior management team and approved by the Head of School. 

When providing remote learning, teachers are responsible and must consider the following:

  1. Setting clear work for all learners, including SEND and G&T Pupils – with targeted outcomes
  2. Use the school’s official software and learning materials (e.g. Twinkl) 
  3. Do not use random resources or americanised materials from other curriculums which cause misconceptions
  4. Work is clearly differentiated and supports all students in an online or class environment
  5. Work must be provided to colleagues as cover for other classes and must be given in advance (at least 24 hours) for online learning 
  6. Work must cover starters, main, and plenary activities. Any additional work for pupil absence must be considered, as well as group activities where applicable. 
  7. All work must coincide and link with the weekly planning set by the class teachers and specialist teacher for all subjects – no gaps should become apparent as a result of staff absence 
  8. Work must be provided in line with the school planning procedure for weekly planning, on a Thursday by 5pm and ready for review by line managers on Friday prior to the next working week commencing. 
  9. All online learning ready for the next working day must be online before 16:30pm for review 
  10. All work and learning materials must be uploaded to the school’s cloud storage and easily accessible by teaching staff and academic leads/heads ready for lesson delivery
  11. Clear co-ordination with other teachers in the year group, teams, specialist departments, line managers and heads of school must be able access all remote learning and this should equally be visible for checking and most importantly to ensure consistency across the year/subject and to make sure pupils with limited access to devices can still complete school work
  12. Feedback on work must be clear, thorough, and understandable for all learners, including SEND pupils, ESL learners and inferred in the correct manner so that all students can reflect on their learning and self-correct. Teachers must look to negate the issue of parents having to support extensively when completing class work or homework. Providing feedback on work is important because it enables children to understand and grow and it is a vital path of pupil progress 
  13. Access to pupil’s work must be clear, understood with both the teachers and the children able to identify what has been set, what has been covered and how to complete anything outstanding. Furthermore, how students will get access to completed work from pupils, using Office 365, CENTURY or other software
  14. Feedback to pupils should be provided live in the online lessons without discrimination or favouritism; students must understand this feedback and teachers must try to ensure that all students are clear and understood with appropriate questioning and answer techniques, as well as formative teaching assessment methods as traditionally used. See assessment policy for further information
  15. All teachers must be clear and consider when they need to finish sharing feedback on completed work. Parents must have an understanding, as well as all teaching staff and their managers on this.

Please consider, specifically:

  1. Keeping in touch with pupils who aren’t in school and their parents: 
  2. If they’re expected to make regular contact, and how they should do that if so (e.g. what medium or platform to use, like emails, phone calls, software or social media)
  3. What expectations are on them for answering emails from parents and pupils (teachers must not answer emails from parents or comments from them outside of the hours of 8am to 5pm.
  4. Any complaints or concerns shared by parents and pupils – for any safeguarding concerns, then please refer teachers to the section below.
  5. For parent complaints, please do not enter into altercation – if a situation arises which becomes difficult or challenging, especially while teaching a cohort or delivering a lesson then please remind the parents that children are live in the classroom and that you will proceed with the lesson. Teachers are to take notes of the conversation (try to remember as much as possible in an honest fashion) and use their professional judgement to inform the parents of the school’s complaints procedure or advise them that a senior manager will be informed and that they will contact them in due course (24 hours timeframe for complaints procedure) to discuss further. No parent dialogue should take place and conversations must not enter into a heated debate.
  6. Students who fail to complete work will be reminded, as per the classroom and school rules, and if deemed necessary then escalated accordingly – both to line management, department heads, subject coordinators etc. and then to parents for intervention if necessary. 
  7. Behaviour issues may occur during online lessons and for these instances it is important to remind children of their behaviour and the impacts on their peers. Additionally, the use of classroom management tools, as per standard teaching practice should always be followed. If behaviour becomes more challenging than it should be noted, reported to the class master, and a written log with specific details on times, dates, duration, and issues needing to be discussed (with a parent in extreme cases). All students must be given the opportunity to rectify their behaviours and the opportunity to discuss after class, if necessary, as they may not understand something specific which has led to miscommunication or frustration. Teachers must be aware that online learning is very different from the classroom where mutual trust and relationships develop, especially at a personal level, at a far greater pace. This is when compared to the use of an online platform such as Teams.
  8. Behaviour issues must be addressed immediately, and the teacher has the authority to ‘mute’ students if they see fit, especially for persistent issues with behaviour which is not acceptable. Additionally, gentle reminders of conduct when online and repetition of expected behaviour and rules should be kind reminders that fulfil part of the start of any lesson. Al teaching staff should look to build a positive relationship with proactive feedback to learners and praising those who are doing well as it will encourage the rest of the group to adhere and look for reward and by using good mannerisms as the benchmark to progress. 
  9. Failure to complete work should be reminded to the group as a whole, ideally not singling out children repeatedly and passed to pastoral leads, class masters, as well as reminders home, if necessary, so that parents are informed without delay on such instances. Failure to complete work in a lesson should be avoided at all costs – given the seriousness of gaps in learning and considering COVID-19 and its issues. 
  10. All staff are expected to attend virtual meetings with staff, parents and pupils, when doing so all staff must:
  • Consider their locations (e.g. avoid areas with background noise, nothing inappropriate in the background).
  • Be appropriately and professionally dressed when online.
  • Teachers working from home and school have the same expectations. Staff will be notified in a timely manner from the management team, explaining who will cover the responsibilities, as all staff members are expected to when in school and the classroom.
  • Teachers must provide remote learning and the quality of content must the best of their ability at all times (links between the in-school system and remote provision are coordinated with the school’s IT department – for example, streaming lessons in school to pupils learning remotely).

Teaching assistants

When assisting with remote learning, teaching assistants must be available between the hours of 8am to 5pm. 

If they’re unable to work for any reason during this time, for example due to sickness or caring for a dependent, they should report this using the normal absence procedure. Please refer to the school’s absence policy and consult with a senior member of the team if in any doubt. 

When assisting with remote learning, teaching assistants are responsible for:

  • Supporting pupils who aren’t in school with learning remotely
  • Identifying and being proactive as well as seeking guidance from line managers to identify which pupils may need support
  • Identifying and being proactive in how teaching assistants provide support

All teaching assistants have a key responsibility and may be required to attending virtual meetings with teachers, parents and pupils.

Locations must be considered when delivering online, the same as all teaching staff. Support staff and teaching assistants must avoid areas with background noise, nothing inappropriate in the background should be observed, and staff must consider the school’s safeguarding policy. 

If teaching assistants are working in school, all responsibilities will be given from both senior and line managers for given periods in school – be those during remote learning or home learning.

Subject Coordinators

Alongside teaching responsibilities, subject leads/Heads of Stage/Heads of School are responsible for:

  • Considering whether any aspects of the subject curriculum need to change to accommodate remote learning. 
  • Working with teachers teaching their subject remotely to make sure all work set is appropriate and consistent. 
  • Working with other subject leads and senior leaders to make sure work set remotely across all subjects is appropriate and consistent, and deadlines are being set an appropriate distance away from each other. 
  • Monitoring the remote work set by teachers in their subject – explain how they’ll do this, such as through regular meetings with teachers or by reviewing work set. 
  • Alerting teachers to resources they can use to teach their subject remotely. 
  • Monitoring and evaluating best practice. 
  • Observing taught lessons and ‘drop ins’ during lesson times to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning is at its highest standard. 
  • Checking and reviewing work of teachers being delivered, as well as homework and other work being set to ensure that all children are progressing, and that feedback is being used to promote self-study and ownership

The school’s SENCO and department lead for SEND provision, including the school psychologists must ensure that they are monitoring and evaluating the pupils in the same manner as if they were present on the school’s premises. Senior leads and management within the school have a dual responsibility to ensure that all pastoral care, safeguarding and any potential barriers to learning are address and acknowledged with reporting, guidance and a trail of documentation which demonstrates such things like interventions, conversations or 1:1 support for students. 

Senior leaders

Alongside any teaching responsibilities, senior leaders are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that home learning is set on time and in advance of lessons starting to make sure that families and students are well prepared for the lessons ahead (or week ahead)
  • Co-ordinating the remote learning approach across the school. The Head of Preschool, Head of Primary, Head of Lower Secondary and the Head of Upper Secondary are responsible to ensure that all curriculum needs are being followed and met – thoroughly. 
  • Heads of School must monitor the effectiveness of remote learning – this is completed through regular meetings with teachers and subject leaders, reviewing work set or reaching out for feedback from pupils and parents. 
  • Monitoring the security of remote learning systems, including data protection and safeguarding considerations. 
  • To work with the Head of School and to report to the Head of School identifying any weaknesses in online provision, where the curriculum may need adaptation and to ensure that there is coverage for all learners and the school’s guidance for teaching is suitable. 
  • All the senior management team must ensure that all staff follow strict safeguarding measures as provided by EduCare and Safeguarding training seminars from the beginning of the school term. 
  • To observe and report on lessons being delivered by teaching and support staff with regular feedback to the Head of School.  

Designated Safeguarding Leads

The DSL is responsible for:

  • Checking iSAMS daily for alerts and safeguarding concerns raised relating specifically to KCSIE Guidance, as well as reviewing the wellbeing manager and reporting modules to deal with and cause for concerns immediately. 
  • Supporting children who are vulnerable and need support. 
  • To identify a course of action if neglect, abuse or another situation arises which requires intervention. 
  • To contact the local authorities in extreme situations. 
  • To support staff and advise of best practice for safeguarding and pastoral care. 

IT staff

IT staff are responsible for:

  • IT staff must be on hand during core working hours or 8am until 5pm to address any IT or system issues which pupils and staff may have for online content. 
  • Fixing issues with systems used to set and collect work. 
  • Helping staff and parents with any technical issues they’re experiencing.
  • Reviewing the security of remote learning systems and flagging any data protection breaches to the data protection officer. 
  • To acknowledge the school’s IT policies, including cookies, personal data, GDPR, and ICT and Acceptable Use policy which form a key part in the online learning process.
  • Assisting pupils and parents with accessing the internet or devices.
  • To ensure that the school’s online learning provision is secure, stable and able to be accessed at all times by all staff. 

Pupils and parents

Staff can expect pupils learning remotely to:

  • Ensure that their full attention and every effort is made to be an active participant in all lessons and to ensure that they are respectful, honest and working as hard as possible while not going out of their way and disrupting other pupils.
  • Be contactable during the school day – although consider they may not always be in front of a device the entire time.
  • Complete work to the deadline set by teachers.
  • Seek help if they need it, from teachers or teaching assistants.
  • Alert teachers if they’re not able to complete work.

Staff can expect parents with children learning remotely to:

  • Make the school aware if their child is sick or otherwise can’t complete work
  • Seek help from the school if they need it – if you know of any resources staff should point parents towards if they’re struggling, include those here
  • Be respectful when making any complaints or concerns known to staff
  • Ensure that lessons are not disrupted because of their own actions and disturbing a lesson when they see fit. If this becomes identifiable in the lesson, then each member of staff is able to record that lesson, giving the parent notice of such instances and to inform their line manager as soon as possible, after the lesson and not impeding on other class members or peers 
  • Senior management team to make this aware to the parents as the academic and child learning process is a collaborative journey in which all parties have a mutual interest in children’s development. 
  • Not to disrupt lessons or impede lessons to affect the flow of taught delivery

CEO

The CEO is responsible for:

  • Monitoring the school’s approach to providing remote learning to ensure education remains as high quality as possible. 
  • Support is provided to all lead academics and to the Head of School, so that all provisions for resources, classroom facilities and resources are both suitable and appropriate for all staff.

Governing board

The governing board is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that staff are certain that remote learning systems are appropriately secure, for both data protection and safeguarding reasons. 
  • To ensure that the quality and provision to enable all the school’s staff are able to function effectively and provision of resources of the highest quality to engage enabling environments and that electronic devices, be those working from home or in school, do not provide a barrier to education.
  • Staff protection from external sources is mandatory and that the school’s IT functionality and virtual environments to not bring any staff member into potential spyware, hacking and personal loss of integrity. 
  • To ensure that all staff on the school’s roll are treated fairly, equally and without bias and prejudice. 

Who to contact:

If staff have any questions or concerns about remote learning, they should contact the following individuals:

Here are some suggested issues and the most likely points of contact, but adapt and add to this as needed:

  • Issues in setting work – talk to the relevant subject lead or SENCO/School Psychologist.
  • Issues with behaviour – talk to the relevant head of phase or year or a SMT member if necessary.
  • Issues with IT – talk to IT staff.
  • Issues with their own workload or wellbeing – talk directly to their line manager.
  • Concerns about data protection – talk to the Head of School for your relevant area and the school’s IT department. 
  • Concerns about safeguarding – talk to the DSLs in the first instance – either a scheduled virtual meeting or by email requesting a conversation. 

Data protection

Accessing personal data

When accessing personal data for remote learning purposes, all staff members understand that:

Personal data is stored on a secure cloud service or a server in your IT network.

Use devices which the school has provided, such as laptops. The use of personal devices to access the school’s network and data is strictly forbidden. All laptops must be signed for, looked after and given back to the school in the same condition in which they were taken. 

Processing personal data

Staff members may need to collect and/or share personal data such as email addresses, sign in credentials and personal information as part of the remote learning system. As long as this processing is necessary for the school’s official functions, individuals won’t need to give permission for this to happen.

However, staff are reminded to collect and/or share as little personal data as possible online.

Keeping devices secure

All staff members will take appropriate steps to ensure their devices remain secure. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Keeping all devices password-protected – strong passwords are at least 8 characters, with a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters (e.g., asterisk or currency symbol).
  • Ensuring the hard drive is encrypted – this means if the device is lost or stolen, no one can access the files stored on the hard drive by attaching it to a new device. 
  • Making sure the device locks if left inactive for a period of time.
  • Not sharing the device among family or friends.
  • Installing antivirus and anti-spyware software.
  • Keeping operating systems up to date – always install the latest updates.
  • Ensure that students cannot access to personal devices or see content from personal devices which could lead to misunderstanding or create a cause for concern under safeguarding rules. 

Safeguarding

Please refer to the school’s Safeguarding and Pastoral Care Policy for specific guidance relating to online learning. 

All teachers have a duty of care to understand the risks related to teaching in a virtual world.

All staff must raise safeguarding concerns immediately if something raises suspicion or causes a concern.

Do not, under any circumstance, challenge a student in front of a group of others, online or in the classroom if a concern becomes apparent. 

Do not make any probing or leading questions which may cause confusion and lead to misunderstandings with the student or other adults. 

If a child wishes to speak in confidence online, advise them that you will record the session, and that what they advise you is confidential, but it will need to be presented to the school’s DSL team who are specialised in dealing with such situations. 

Monitoring arrangements

This policy will be reviewed termly by the Head of School and Governor to ensure that all provisions for online learning are being met and that the highest standards are being maintained. 

Links with other policies

This policy is linked to our:

  • Behaviour policy
  • Safeguarding Policy
  • Data protection policy and privacy notices
  • Any Home-school agreements with parents and carers
  • ICT and internet acceptable use policy
  • Health and Safety Policies and the ordinance from the Ministry of Health, Bulgaria

Revised: September 2020

Next revision: As advised, ongoing (due to COVID-19 protocols) 

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