This material has been developed for practitioners working remotely to support students with SEND in their own homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It should help you to find the best ways to monitor progress and give meaningful feedback to your students and the people who are supporting them at home, whatever the type of learning activity.
Whether you are in touch with learners by telephone or online video conferencing, or through providing physical packs to students’ homes, these resources should help guide you as you monitor progress and offer feedback. They include a set of overarching principles, a checklist to facilitate planning and prioritisation, and a range of college-produced resources that you can either use or adapt for your own settings.
This pack has been developed by Natspec working with a group of colleagues from member colleges. We are very grateful to them all for sharing their expertise so generously. Contributors include:
- Catherine Robinson at RNIB Loughborough
- Claire Richardson at Camphill Wakefield
- Dave Hansell at National Star College
- Hilary Anderson at Hedleys College
- Jack Nordhoff at Glasshouse College
- Jay Marshall at Newfriars College
- Jaimee Burton at Portland College
- Jules Banks at RNIB Loughborough
- Kim Wilson-Smith at St John’s College
- Libby Wilkins at Oakley College
- Loki Grey at St John’s College
- Mark Pursehouse at Queen Alexandra College
- Michael Davern at The Orpheus Centre
Effective practice principles for home learning
These principles apply to all learners and all types of home learning.
- Be young person-centred.
- Ensure the voice (however this is heard) and the wishes of the young person are at the core of planning for home learning.
- Be mindful of the individual home contexts of each young person.
- Have the health and wellbeing of the young person at the core of all planning and home programmes.
- Have Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) outcomes and Preparation for Adulthood (PfA) goals at the core of all home learning.
- Ensure learning is as contextualised to the individual young person’s day-to-day life as possible.
- Have multi-disciplinary input including therapeutic input and support from social workers and social care – this is a time for team collaboration wrapped around a young person.
- Include a meaningful cycle of feedback and encouragement.
Effective practice principles for recording progress and giving meaningful feedback
We can build on these principles when thinking about how best to capture evidence of learning, monitor progress and provide meaningful feedback.
- Ensure that the young person and the people supporting them are aware of the current learning priorities and why they are important.
- Ensure learning activities link to targets.
- Following discussion, provide examples of how work and evidence of activities can be returned using family preferences.
- Make sure you are flexible and open to a variety of approaches for evidencing learning. Many colleges are finding that informal methods are more accessible and effective.
- Provide regular feedback to learners in order to help them to understand what they have done well, what they need to improve and use this to inform future planning.
- Make feedback fun and include targeted praise.
- Include self-evaluation and peer assessment if appropriate as this can help to reduce feelings of isolation.
Home progress and feedback checklist
This checklist gives you a framework for asking yourself a few key questions as you decide the best ways of monitoring progress and providing feedback for young people learning at home. It can also be used as an audit tool, e.g. by colleges to evaluate the overall effectiveness of their processes and systems, or by practitioners who are supporting individual students.
General – Home Learning
- Adopt a student / family-centred approach to reflect the individual’s needs and home circumstances. Regularly review your approach.
- Use a personalised approach for communication and to get work to and from students, adopting a preferred method e.g. telephone, home visits, email, digital platform such as Microsoft Teams
- Identify the individual’s “home starting point” or “new baseline” and their learning priorities. Involve the student and parents / carers so there is ownership of the targets
- Share current targets in an accessible and understandable way
- Identify realistic and manageable life skill activities which could help them meet these targets, e.g. if communication based, a common family activity
- Identify specific requirements relating to the achievement of accredited outcomes, where additional work is needed, and agree if this is realistic in the setting
- Ensure expectations about completing and returning work are realistic, clear and understood by the student and / or their parents / carers
- Provide parents / carers with guidance about how they can provide evidence of learning. Help may be required for parents to recognise small steps of progress.
- Develop evidence and tracking tools to be used at home. Include student self-evaluation where appropriate, e.g. through use of reflective logs
- Be mindful of the levels of support provided at home – this may affect achievement levels.
Review Delivery of Learning
- Carry out regular learning-focused conversations to check on well-being and progress. Review both engagement and progress.
- Ensure the agreed approach and the targets remain fit for purpose. Provide supportive, motivational and timely feedback
- Implement agreed interventions or updates if progress is not as expected
- Encourage learners to develop innovative ways of sharing their progress
- Use existing systems for recording progress wherever possible and continue usual quality assurance measures.
You can download the Monitoring Progress Checklist for use in your organisation.
Understanding the context
Things are very different for our students and their families right now. That means that it is just nor realistic to continue delivering your programme as normal. You will need to review learners’ programmes and prioritise goals and targets that take into account their home circumstances. We must ensure that what we are asking young people to do is achievable. You can find further advice on how to do this on high quality home learning programmes page.
We recommend beginning with a form of review meeting. This will help you establish the learning priorities for the young person at home. We suggest that this meeting should be organised by a designated person who has oversight of the young person’s learning journey. All ongoing contact, particularly review activity, should be made by this same person. Newfriars College has a developed a planning meeting template and have shared two worked examples to demonstrate the use of this tool.
Remote learning on this scale is new to us all. We have provided some guidance to ensure professional standards are maintained to a high level during this time. We also recognise that some colleges are delivering regular sessions that involve student-facing video-conferencing activities. Natspec has produced a best practice guide to support such activity.
Progress and feedback examples
You will need to be flexible in how you monitor progress and provide feedback. The majority of parents and carers will be keen to do the very best they can, but they are not professional teachers and will need help to understand their role in capturing evidence of learning. Do not worry too much if an approach is not successful; keep reviewing what you are doing and be prepared to try something different instead.
Monitoring engagement with home learning
We suggest you appoint a dedicated practitioner to provide ongoing contact with a young person and their family. This person will be responsible for all home communication. As well as a learning-focused conversation, these calls can also be used to address health and wellbeing and wider support needs.
National Star College has developed a family contact form which provides a good way of structuring the conversation and provides a record following the call including a summary of agreed actions. Queen Alexandra College has developed a similar feedback form which they send to parents / carers to complete and return to college.
Tracking completion of home learning activities
Camphill Wakefield have developed a tracking spreadsheet to enable them to track the completion of home learning activities. Some colleges using Databridge have added an additional event log category to monitor home learning activity.
Evidence of learning
Some colleges have integrated tracking sheets and suggestions for how work should be returned into their home learning material. RNIB College Loughborough has developed a rainbow themed craft project, differentiated to meet a range of needs and with embedded functional skills.
St John’s College issue five highly differentiated daily briefs at the beginning of each week which includes details on how evidence can be returned to the appropriate member of staff. Progress is checked during the week through welfare calls. At the end of the week, learners are able to reflect on their progress with their peers as part of a weekly Zoom call.
Oakley College learners normally produce a newsletter to be sent to parents and carers to share experiences from college. During lockdown the concept has been flipped and learners and their parents / carers are submitting contributions from their home learning experiences to be shared as a newsletter with their peers. They have also developed a How to Feedback using Microsoft Teams guide for staff.
Camphill Wakefield is encouraging learners to complete a working from home diary and have provided a variety of documents for them to log their entries.
To support the learners to amend completed work, Portland College is providing verbal feedback using Screencast-o-matic, which is an online screen recorder. They recommend that you prepare your feedback in advance of recording, to ensure you can deliver it clearly.
Use of existing tracking tools
You can continue to transfer progress data into existing MIS, but you should think carefully about the validity of the evidence you are gathering. It is impossible to monitor closely how much support parents and carers are providing and to know what the impact of that is on progress and achievement. You may prefer to capture learning informally during this period and be prepared to revisit learning undertaken that took place at home, when learners return to college.