Meon Junior School’s successful switch to live and remote learning

They say ‘every day’s a school day’, and never has that been more profound! For parents in 2021 every day has been just that. Sara Paine, Headteacher of Meon Juniors shares how her school are thriving with live and remote learning.

“Moving lessons to live learning was nerve-wracking but we did it.

We do three live teaching sessions a day, plus one additional session three times a week – bringing our school community together in assembly.

Before the first day, I asked parents to please be patient, kind and understanding – and they delivered. My staff were terrified, from newly qualified through to teachers with 30 years’ experience, they were nervous; this is new, out of their comfort zone, and the parents’ messages lifted spirits.

Our biggest challenge has been technology and learning how to use it at such short notice. But, every day we – the teachers, parents and pupils – get better. Being part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) has been a godsend, I feel that, as a group of schools, we’re moving forward together, overcoming the technological challenges and sharing good practice.

As with a school day, routine is vital, we share a timetable weekly, outlining all the remote learning and including timings for live lessons.

It works; our first day of remote learning, we saw 84% of our school logging on to live lessons and now a whopping 98% have been in live lessons, with 99% of our school engaged in the remote learning offer.

It’s a huge team effort, teachers and pupils too; we’re all in it together.

This approach works for us, though we are constantly reviewing, reflecting, and listening, to make changes where needed.

Portsmouth’s leaders are close knit, and we are all in this together working towards a common goal. As a city we’re a good bunch, collaborating and sharing what works.

Here at Meon Juniors we’re doing it this way, we took a chance and it’s paid off.”

What parents are saying:

“My two had a great day. It’s really appreciated, all the hard work that has gone into today and for the future weeks. Having this structure and communication has been fantastic!”

“Thank you for all your hard work to support the children, this IT stuff can’t be easy!”

“It was great that the children got to see their teacher and felt included and all the work was there for them to access”

“Thank you for all you and your staff are doing in such a crazy climate. The way you have switched to online learning, literally overnight is quite incredible”

“Firstly thank you for a brilliant day of home learning – It’s amazing how you’ve pulled it all together so quickly and seamlessly for the children. Thank you.”

Langstone Junior Academy receives recognition for lockdown project

Year six pupils and their teacher at Langstone Junior Academy have received recognition for a project in which they linked up with pupils in Italy and shared their lockdown experiences.

Class teacher and MFL lead, Lyndsey Knight explains:

I joined an international project that was set up by a teacher in Italy where the worst number of COVID cases were initially. We contributed to the project by uploading photos of work/fun created by our year six children at home such as letters, pictures, baking, crafts etc. The children really embraced this project, and it all sort of snowballed from receiving the first award – European Quality label – to the National Award for an Outstanding Project 2020.

A video showing examples of some of the activities carried out by pupils is available to watch online.

The British Council commented:

‘(We) would like to congratulate Langstone Junior School for being recognised with the following British Council eTwinning National Award‘.

Outstanding Project
The award was announced on Friday 27 November 2020 during the 15th annual British Council eTwinning national conference. Langstone Junior Academy’s THE RED ZONE: Isolated but connected! scored amongst the highest across the UK within the project quality framework:

  • Pedagogical innovation
  • Curricular integration
  • Collaboration between partner schools
  • Use of technology
  • Results, impact and documentation

The judge’s comments about the school’s award-winning project were:

This imaginative project directly addresses the lockdown with a thoughtful and imaginative use of technology developing creative solutions. Good collaboration between the staff involved structured new learning opportunities for all the students involved. The inclusion of family support and engagement in the students learning is commendable. Student collaboration eased the isolation for all the participants and the twinspace demonstrates the extensive learning opportunities. A worthy winning project focused on learning in lockdown.

Find out more about Project TwinSpace here.

Outdoor Education

Trailblazer is an outdoor learning scheme from Hampshire County Council for young people of all ages in Portsmouth. Trailblazer supports and develops schools’ work in outdoors learning with training, ideas, resources and experience sharing opportunities.

The weekly Trailblazer newsletters are available below:

Exciting Project for Developing Curriculum Materials

As you may be aware there are exciting plans for Tipner West Regeneration. We are really keen to involve schools and would like to see some curriculum materials developed around the project.

We would like to work with some SLEs and/ or other strong teachers to develop some curriculum resources locally and then potentially engage with a publisher at a later stage.

Ideally this would involve both primary and secondary colleagues and would look to cover a number of curriculum areas, geography, science, engineering and maths are obvious ones, but it could potentially go broader than that too. There will be an initial workshop to find out more, discuss the project plans and scope the potential of this work.

The workshop will take place on Wednesday 29th January 4-5.30pm, Conference Room B, Civic Offices.

Depending on the level of interest and availability, we would look to commission a number of teachers to work both individually and collaboratively to develop (and potentially pilot) some resources.

If you are interested in finding out more or to confirm your attendance at the workshop please contact Sarah Christopher 07825 492712  [email protected]

Teacher Workload and Retention Conference – 5 March 2020

The Portsmouth Conference on Teacher Workload and Retention will take place on Thursday 5 March 2020.  This half day event will enable Portsmouth head teachers and school leaders the chance to explore how to manage and reduce workload and improve teacher retention, whilst ensuring Portsmouth children receive the best possible education.

Attendees will hear from Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, Janine Ashman, a member of the DFE working group on workload, and head teachers and leaders from Portsmouth schools sharing their experience.

  • Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education; and
  • Janine Ashman, Deputy Head of St Peter’s CE Primary, Somerset, and a member of the DFE working group on workload, who specialises in assessment.

The conference programme can be viewed here.

Places, which are free of charge, must be booked by Friday 14 February on the Portsmouth Learning Gateway.

Farmington Scholarships 2019/20

Applications for the 2019/20 Farmington Scholarships are now open. These are Scholarships available to teachers of religious education and associated subjects in UK secondary, primary, and special needs schools. Headteachers who wish to undertake research into either religious education or values education are also eligible to apply.

A number of schools in the city have benefitted recently from this programme including Highbury Primary and St Jude’s CofE Primary.

Scholarships cover the cost of tuition, essential local travel and, by negotiation with the school, the salary of a replacement teacher up to point 6 of the main pay scale. Scholarships last for a maximum of 30 days and can either be taken at a local university (Farmington Institute has links with 15 throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) or can be home-based with a local tutor.  Further information and an application form can be found on the institute’s website

For more information please contact:

Kay Webb


Farmington Institute

Harris Manchester College

T: 01865 271985

E: [email protected]

Professional Development Consortium in MFL with Philip Campagna

On 23rd May, a workshop with Philip Campagna will be taking place in Portsmouth, which will focus on the development of speaking and writing skills at KS3 in preparation for the new MFL GCSE.

Philip is the South West Regional and National Director for Network for Learning and is a Senior Lecturer and PGCE Course Leader for Secondary MFL at Bath Spa University, and is also the PGCE Primary MFL Coordinator. In the past he has presented to national and international language conferences.

The session will take place from 5.00pm – 7.00pm and will be held at the St. George’s Building on St. Thomas’ Street, Old Portsmouth.

Full details of the event can be found here. If you would be interested in attending this event, please get in touch with Tanya.