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Last reviewed on 20 January 2021
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School types: All · School phases: All

Learn from computing lead and teacher, Ben Chaffe, about how his school is approaching live lessons to reduce teaching workload and keep pupils at home engaged. Find out how he incorporates pupils who are learning from home into lessons in school – and get practical tips on how to make this work for your school.

Why you should try this approach

Reduces teacher workload 

A teacher will be teaching pupils in school and those at home the same thing at the same time. You may only use this approach for 1 lesson each day, but that's still 1 hour where your teaching staff are able to streamline work. 

Promotes pupil engagement

It allows pupils at home to still feel connected to their class and teacher by being able to: 

  • Interact with their teacher during lessons
  • Hear instructions as well as reading them on the set work
  • Ask questions directly to their teacher 

Takes away some of the burden on parents 

Most pupils will be able to use the technology independently from their parents. 

When this approach can work

It’ll work for you if:

  • You have pupils in Key Stage 2 (KS2) or above, including secondary pupils
  • Your school is using a digital education platform like Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams, and is set up to teach live lessons (see the section below for help with this)
  • Your pupils are able to access a device whilst at home 
  • You have anything from all pupils at home to just 1 pupil at home and the rest in school - so this approach can also work in future if any pupils are at home because they're self-isolating

School example: a case study

Having some interaction throughout the week still helps pupils stay engaged and feel connected to the school

Scorton Church of England (CofE) Primary School is a small rural school in Lancashire. Computing lead and year 3/4 teacher Ben Chaffe tells us that they originally developed this approach to include self-isolating pupils in live lessons, but they've continued to use it whilst the majority of pupils are at home.

They use it for the 1 live lesson at the start of each day - for the rest of the day, pupils follow recorded lessons. Some of their pupils aren't able to attend a live lesson every time, for example if they're sharing devices at home, but having some interaction throughout the week still has an impact on keeping them engaged and connected to the school.

What you'll need to do before the lesson

Get pupils prepared to interact in live lessons 

If you've been using a digital education platform for a while now, and staff and pupils are confident using it, then you can skip past this section to 'upload online tasks'. 

Teach pupils the basic skills

For primary pupils, you'll need to teach pupils a summary of the the basics of how to use your platform so pupils don't need to rely on parents as much to access the technology and can fully participate in the lesson. For example, they'll need to know how to: 

  • Log in
  • Access work 
  • Use the chat function 
  • Unmute 

Ben looked to embed this knowledge for his pupils by building learning about how to use their school's digital education platform, Google Classroom, into the school's computing curriculum. He planned the autumn term around online communication and messaging - take a look at Ben's planning document to find out what they covered. 

For secondary pupils, sharing instructions on how to use your school's platform will likely be enough - use our factsheets on Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams.

Make sure you've put safeguarding measures in place

Check you have all of the appropriate control measures in place for delivering live lessons - use our article to help you with this. 

Upload online tasks to your digital education platform

Upload the work to be completed by pupils at home during the lesson, to your platform in advance of the live lesson - making sure you include instructions for each task.

Scorton CofE Primary School uses Kami for some of their online tasks, which is a free extension for Google Classroom that allows pupils to edit onto pdfs. The mention of this product does not constitute an endorsement from The Key. 

Here's an example of a task Ben created: 


Set up the technology for use during the lesson

If possible, set up a laptop (with camera) so you can have some face-to-face interaction with pupils at the start of the lesson. See a diagram below of a portion of a classroom, with an idea of how you might want to set this up if running the live lesson from a classroom in school. 

If you don't have a camera, that's still okay as pupils at home will still be able to hear you whilst you're teaching.  


What you'll need to do during the lesson

Start by welcoming all pupils

  • Welcome your pupils in class, and pupils at home, to the class - you'll want to make sure your video is on at this point if you have camera 
  • Check with your pupils at home to see that they can hear you from where you'll be delivering the lesson

Ask pupils at home questions to help you check their understanding and make sure they're staying engaged

  • Once you've welcomed pupils at home, switch to sharing your screen so pupils can see what's on your digital board. It's okay that pupils at home can't see your face at this point, as they'll still be able to hear you and the rest of the class in school

Direct some questions to pupils at home throughout the lesson

  • This will help you to check their understanding, but also to make sure they're staying engaged
  • Remember that you'll need to allow time for the pupil at home to answer the question by unmuting themselves

When setting a task for pupils

  • Explain any instructions to the whole class. Pupils at home will be able to hear these instructions, as well as read them afterwards on the task that you've uploaded to your digital education platform
  • Set pupils in class off on the task, and go over to your laptop or switch back to the video link on your computer. Ask your pupils at home to turn on their microphones, and check each pupil understands what they need to do
  • If you're setting a longer task, you can go back to the computer to check how your pupils at home are getting on 



Thanks to Ben Chaffe, computing lead and year 3/4 class teacher at Scorton Church of England (CofE) Primary School, for sharing this approach with us.

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