Pedagogical Continuity and Distance Learning

Primary Interlocutor: PedGroup

At its 28 April meeting the APEEE Board agreed to ask the school management to develop a Distance Learning Strategy, as suggested in the Distance Learning Recommendations produced by the Central Office (ref. 2020-03-D-11; version 6 published in September 2020). The strategy should be developed in consultation with stakeholders and should:

  • include a common weekly structure and harmonised practices and minimum requirements using commonly-agreed tools (i.e. TEAMS modules) for each level or sub-cycle;
  • go hand-in-hand with improved quality assurance based on tools (technical or other) allowing targetted quality assurance and quick identification of problems, including in particular tracking and replacement of teachers absent from online courses;
  • take into account that parent access to TEAMS is currently limited;
  • include the development of a code of conduct concerning the use of TEAMS.

The aim of the document should be to ensure pedagogical continuity in a range of scenarios and situations, including:

  • for quarantined or vulnerable individuals who cannot attend classes in situ;
  • for quarantined classes or levels;
  • for teachers teaching from home;
  • and for scenarios requiring hybrid (rotation) or full distance teaching.

Smooth transitions between different scenarios / risk levels should also be foreseen.

The APEEE are optimistic that the school management has agreed in several meetings (14 May and 2 September with APEEE Bureau; 7 July SAC; 23 September in Admin Board) that such a strategy will be developed, and we believe it will also help address issues with harmonisation between sections and cycles and optimal use of teaching time that were identified in the 2018 Whole School Inspection. We are also glad to see a similar objective set by the Central Office in the “Common Priorities” section of the Annual Pedagogical School Plan 2020-2021: “Based on the quality assurance document of the task force the schools will provide updated policy on distance teaching and learning and will establish minimum standards in this respect...” also to be accompanied by on-boarding procedures for newly-arrived pupils, a staff training plan, and the identification of teaching staff champions. To this end, at the Secondary CE meeting on 24 September, the APEEE also requested that a dedicated school Distance Learning Working Group be set up, a request eventually supported by the direction.

The APEEE has recently received positive feedback from families on the efforts from the school to ensure a more harmonised programme across all cycles and sections. We have also been reassured by increased communication to parents of the modalities/arrangements put in place. In particular we see the December 2020 publication by the Uccle Primary Direction of Distance Teaching Guidelines and Recommendations coupled with Safety Measures as an important step in the right direction. We would encourage more formal consultation of parent representation on the specifics proposed. We strongly believe that, in order to assure pedagogical continuity for all children in the current situation, a cycle-specific Distance Learning Strategy should be made available to all stakeholders. This strategy should set common standards and harmonise practice while also making it possible for teachers to use differentiated approaches.

Finally, we feel lucky that we as a system had the foresight to roll out TEAMS in previous years and that we have a strong pedagogical team in the Central Office to guide our distance and hybrid learning efforts. In December 2020, the Board of Governors of the European Schools officially approved the European Schools Distance Teaching and Learning Policy (ref. 2020-09-D-10 v3). Importantly, the policy is intended to support "learning continuity plans" devised by each school. The policy will be officially published in January 2021 and can be used by schools in conjunction with the Distance Learning Recommendations (ref. 2020-03-D-11; v.6 published in September 2020). We believe that we are now in a position to reap more benefits from the guidance and structures already in place. Beyond this, we call upon the Central Office to further support the efforts of individual schools by sharing Best Practice examples from other schools in the system.

Supporting Documents

APEEE: List of Pedagogical Continuity and Remote Learning Measures Submitted to the School Direction (06 March 2020)
APEEE: Remote Learning Feedback Report (March/April 2020)
OSGES: Guidelines for the pedagogical use of mobile devices in the European Schools (2020-01-D-14-en-1; April 2020)
APEEE: Proposed Next Steps for Remote Learning (April 2020)
INTERPARENTS: Questions for Management on Distance Learning (27 May 2020) reflection on the European School Distance Learning Recommendations, v.5
OSGES: Distance Learning Recommendations (v.6; 2020-03-D-11; September 2020)
INTERPARENTS JTC Proposal: Distance Learning for Absent Children (2020-09-D-66-en-1; September 2020)
INTERPARENTS JTC Proposal: Electronic text books for European Schools (2020-09-D-41-en-1; September 2020)
EEBI Berkendael Primary: Informations sur l’enseignement à distance / Distance Learning Information (03 November 2020) - FR / EN
APEEE: Berkendael Nursery and Primary Distance Learning Suggestions (November 2020)
APEEE: Uccle Nursery and Primary Distance Learning Feedback Report (November/December 2020)
APEEE: Secondary Distance/Rotation Learning Feedback Report (November/December 2020)
EEBI Uccle Primary: Consignes et recommandations pour différents scénarios / Guidelines and Recommendations for different scenarios (parent version; 15 December 2020) - FR / EN
EEBI Uccle Primary: Sécurité et bonnes pratiques / Online Safety Rules (December 2020) - FR / EN
EEBI Berkendael Primary: Enseignment en ligne / Distance Learning Guidelines (parent version; 22 December 2020) - FR / EN
OSGES: Proposal for a Distance Teaching and Learning Policy / Proposition de politique d'enseignement et d'apprentissage à distance / Vorschlag für eine Strategie zu Fernunterricht und-lernen für die Europäischen Schulen (2020-09-D-69-4; December 2020) - EN / FR / DE

Document 2020-09-D-69-4 was approved at the December 2020 European School Board of Governors meeting with one addition to section II.A.1. "Timetables must be examined cycle by cycle and if necessary, adapted by the management to fit learning scenarios, and to ensure the best balance between the achievement of learning objectives with the well-being of pupils in each year and educational staff." The official policy (ref. 2020-09-D-10 v.3) will be published by OSGES in the second half of January 2021.

See also: Pedagogical Working Group (PedGroup)

Last update: 05/01/2020