Junior children using laptops

Distance Learning Provision

How have we been maintaining levels of learning during lockdown at ESMS Junior School?

All ESMS classes from Nursery to S6 have daily live lessons, hosted on MS Teams. These are supplemented by set tasks on Firefly, our virtual learning platform, which cover the entire curriculum including specialist subjects, such as French, German, Art, Drama, Music and PE. Together these digital platforms allow pupils to communicate easily with their teachers and enable teachers to have conversations with a small group of children about specific topics.  

While online learning can never replace the full rounded educational experience, our teachers have pulled out all the stops, creatively and digitally, to keep the virtual experience as similar as possible!

We also use Seesaw, which has been a really valuable tool for bringing online learning closer to the classroom experience in a number of ways:

  • The user-friendly format allows even our youngest children to share examples of learning with their teacher. They can use a range of media from posting pictures of written work, to uploading audio of their music performances or videos of activities they have completed
  • Teachers can feedback by writing comments and suggestions straight onto the page, using virtual stickers for encouragement and even posting audio feedback directly underneath work
  • We also use the technology to bring classes together, for example recreating class reading time by combining individual videos of children reading aloud so that the children can enjoy reading together just as they would in school.

“The material on Firefly has been excellent. The provision of non-core lessons such as music and drama has also been a real benefit.” 


ESMS Junior School 

Pastoral care during lockdown 

Pastoral care has remained an important part of school life while the school is distance learning. In the Junior School Class Teachers meet with the children every day and families are contacted regularly to enable us to identify where pupils need additional support.    

We have also introduced weekly virtual Learning for Life lessons which are specifically focused on developing children’s the emotional vocabulary and giving them a platform to discuss their feelings and support them with their mental health. 

Our video calls have also been enormously powerful in supporting wellbeing. Pupils are encouraged to keep their cameras on during live lessons so they can see that we are all in the same position, which helps to make them feel less isolated.   

We know that parenting is particularly challenging during lockdown so we have developed a range of digital resources and virtual workshops for parents to help them build their child’s resilience, boost mental health and manage difficult emotions.  This includes videos and workshops with external experts including Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Aine Murphy and Stan Godek. 

Children are encouraged to stay active to support their physical and mental health and our online resources include a range of videos developed by our PE departments to make staying active fun. We also have regular school challenges to get our community up and moving.