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Home learning not home schooling

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Home learning not home schooling

by The Revd Peter Laurence OAM | CEO, Anglican Schools Commission

Schools across WA have just resumed for Term Two. I say resumed as teachers are teaching and students are learning, but that’s about the only resemblance to the opening of the school year some three months ago. COVID-19 has changed the world and changed our world.

Yes, our schools are very much ‘open for business’. While the numbers are similar to those of a month ago, only approximately two per cent of students are actually on campus. These students generally are children of frontline and healthcare workers, or others in essential industries. It is important that these children can attend our schools while their parents work.

What about the other 98 per cent? These students are now learning from home, using technology to connect them with their teachers. At times, this means sophisticated software through which the curriculum is delivered. It also means using web-conferencing software for teachers to connect with their class. For some, it means packages of work being accessed by students who study under their teacher’s supervision and direction.

Home learning in an ASC school at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic is not home schooling. Home schooling is a type of education where the parent or carer takes responsibility for the learning content, creates the learning program and designs the mode of delivery. Under home schooling, the responsibility falls entirely on the parent or carer to prepare lessons, assessments and tasks that satisfy the curriculum requirements of the relevant state education authority.

In home learning, teachers create the scheduling and lesson content, aligned with WA curriculum requirements, and deliver them to our students. The teachers make every effort to design tasks that can be completed independently by the child at home, only needing the resources and direction provided by the teacher in most cases.

Our teachers and schools have adapted to this new world in an incredibly short period of time. In early March we were on campus in the usual way. By the end of March, all ASC schools were using remote or online delivery, with those few students attending the physical school campus each day also ‘learning remotely’ under adult supervision.

Decisions may be taken by the WA Government that allow some or all year levels and students to return to school campuses this month, or in June, or even for the start of Term Three in late July or after. At the time of writing this article, such decisions had not been taken.

While the ASC will be guided by government decisions, we will always act in the best interests of our students and staff. Their safety and wellbeing underpin any decision taken in relation to how school looks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing is for certain. Now that the remote/online learning genie is out of the bag, we won’t be able to put it back! There will be many unexpected learnings from being forced into this new way of teaching and learning… of ‘being school’. For sure, the social interactions which we all miss currently will return (even if in some modified form). Social distancing will probably remain for some time. But schools will not just go back to the old ways of doing things. They will move forward to new ways, much of which will be as before, some of which will be new expressions of teaching, learning, care and even worship.

As parishes have adapted to live-streaming services from empty churches, our schools have adapted to online delivery of learning from largely empty campuses. We look forward to the day that life and energy is returned to our physical spaces with the return of the students. In the meantime, the extraordinary work being done by our dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff is to be praised. We are blessed to have such dedicated professionals who truly understand their calling to one of the greatest vocations of all.

Published in May Messenger 2020

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