CEO Carl Ward with Holden Lane Head Clare Thomas

Stoke-on-Trent pupils to share lessons via video link-up

HUNDREDS of pupils from different schools could soon be taking part in the same lessons using a live video link. The virtual learning plans are being explored by a group of primary and secondary schools which are forming a multi-academy trust. Most lessons would still be taught in the conventional way, with 30 pupils in class.

But some specialist sessions or projects could be beamed out to each classroom via a big screen, where a lead teacher or visiting author would address youngsters from different schools. The first virtual lesson is set to be trialled in September through the new City Learning Trust. The trust will bring together Haywood Academy, in Burslem, its new sixth form centre, Holden Lane Primary, in Sneyd Green, Smallthorne Primary, and Mill Hill Primary, near Tunstall.

Between them, they will oversee the education of more than 2,000 pupils, aged three to 19.

Carl Ward, executive headteacher of Haywood, said: “We will have in the region of 450 staff. It means we can start looking at teaching and learning strategies across the piste.

“We can look at having similar policies on marking and assessment, joint staff training and also improve our transition work.”

The primary schools are all due to convert to academy status over the next few months, but will keep their own headteachers and individual governing bodies. A new campus leadership team and board of directors will meet regularly to plan more strategic work across the schools.

Mr Ward added: “We are going to have a joint literacy strategy. We could also share attendance officers, who would get to know families across the area. By pooling resources, we can save on costs and redirect that money into classrooms.”

Other ideas include forming a City Learning Trust Parliament, which would see pupils become mini-MPs for their own schools.

Mr Ward said the virtual learning environment would be ideal for joint projects.

“We could have numeracy and literacy leaders teaching some lessons to all Year 6 pupils. Instead of 30 children, it could involve 300 children.”

At Holden Lane Primary, staff are also keen to work with the other schools.

Headteacher Clare Thomas said: “It’s about giving the children the best possible opportunities.

“We are setting up a programme of enrichment activities for children as young as Year 1. They will be going to Haywood to use specialist facilities and work with their staff.

“One project will be about robots.”

Holden Lane would be able to take pupils on more trips too. Between the schools, there will be eight minibuses.

Published: 12 November, The Sentinel

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The staff here are excited about the extensive opportunities for collaborative working, sharing of teaching and learning expertise and resources and partnership development work, all of which will provide excellent learning opportunities for the children of our city.

Sharon Bates

Headteacher, Mill Hill Primary School