Bridging the gap between remote teaching and remote learning

Nicole Ponsford

Nic Ponsford FRSA is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Gender Equality Collective. She is an educational and technology thought leader, a Harvard author (TechnoTeaching), Regional Lead for the new Dfe Edtech Demonstrator Programme, award-winning teacher, TES columnist and EdTech50 Judge. Nic believes that technology is the great equaliser for our time.

Follow @NicolePonsford

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nic Ponsford, as well as being an IMS contributor for six years (*gasp*), is also known for her work in education and technology, and more recently as the co-CEO and founder of the GEC. Knowing that online learning and remote working are central to her makeup, we knew that she would have a few things to share with us, and you. 

What have you been working on since the school closures?

It feels like everything! It started with HomeLearningUK a collaborative project by edtech thought-leaders and teachers on ways to support peer-to-peer remote teaching and learning. This was set up just before the schools closed and offered guidance and then a report on what the climate was / is like, guides to help schools and colleges and ideas. All created remotely by people just wanting to help. 

Then I was asked to be a librarian for the CoronaVirusTechHandBook. This is a crowdsourced library of tools, services and resources relating to COVID-19 response. It is a rapidly evolving resource with thousands of expert contributors. It really is a staggering body of knowledge across all sectors. Worth a visit if you haven’t seen it already. 

Then I decided - through chats in another Twitter group - that there needed to be some national joined up approach. There were lots of lists being published for parents - in fact we have a great Home Learning one on our GEC website that the Instagram community are loving! - but it was baffling. As a parent to twin preschoolers and a KS2 child with SEND, I knew that a simple daily approach would be easier for me to navigate (especially as my hubby and I were balancing our work commitments too). I spoke with some of the early years experts in our GEC Collective, Ruth Swailes and Maureen Hunt. We came up with the idea of a daily topic, four inclusive and gender-neutral EY activities (timed around snack/meal/nap times) for preschoolers, all easily completed in the house - and accessible for all. The bonus is that the videos ‘speak’ to the children so grownups can even sneak a cuppa in (#win). 

We launched as soon as we got Day 1 sorted - and did a full month, creating 80 activities and a community of 2,000 in four weeks. It was all-consuming BUT we got great feedback from settings supporting key-worker children and parents self-isolating, as well as from the early year sector.


We are very excited about our new partnership with Famly. We are in the process of gifting them our content for their CoronaHub so they can share it with 100,000s of homes (and we cannot wait!). 

My current role is with the DFE Edtech Demonstrator School and Colleges Programme. I am Regional Lead for the South West, and currently getting to know my Demonstrator settings and linking them to Support Schools. This is a great way for the sector to provide peer-to-peer support for one another. I am very proud to be part of this. 

Another example of how people can come together and provide solutions online during these times is the recent #BrewEdIsolation led by Graham Andre and Ed Finch. A full day of CPD and discussion was offered voluntarily by some of the most respected and inclusive educators that I know. I was thrilled to be not only included with my thoughts on Educational Bias, but I was interviewed by the host with the most that is Mr Andre! 

Lastly, we (the GEC) have been nominated for a National Diversity Award (in association with the ITVNews) for our (online) community! We need to get as many people to tell the panel as we can WHY we are worth shortlisting. So, if anyone reading this wants to help us (pretty please) just tell them here.



What have you learned?

That technology really is the great equaliser. However dispositions to technology, access to 1:1 devices, wifi all come as a barrier to accessing great content. There is also a gulf of difference between remote teaching (what is put out there for personalised learning) and remote learning (the student’s engagement and measured learning and skills). The UK has faced these challenges in different ways - and a joined up national approach to edtech in England in particular will hopefully be the learning from this crisis. 

I have also been able to celebrate in the brilliance that is online collaboration and collectives. There are incredible people out there - with this unprecedented backdrop- working hard and smart to help families and individuals out there. Technology can bring knowledge, power, inclusion and change lives. Let’s hope we also make this real in IRL once schools open again!

The interesting element about all of this has been the safety and well-being of our more vulnerable families during these times. I think the dialogue moved from some schools quickly from producing lesson-content to safeguarding. It is this element that has illustrated what the education system does day to day for these homes. Big learnings for us all going forwards. 


What is your advice to parents?

Wellbeing is key here. I know that keeping the children calm and safe through the day is of key importance. Missing family and friends is nothing to be dismissed. Many parents are anxious about the impact on this - on what their schools are doing - or not doing. I would say do not worry about making your home a school. A home is a home. And you are already a teacher to your children, you are a parent. Teachers are superheroes and this is a national emergency. Schools will want calm happy learners - and will start teaching to your child’s needs when they can. In my mind there is no ‘falling behind’ at this point. We are all in our own boats, weathering this storm. 


What is your advice to schools?

Reflect on what your messages and actions are telling your communities at this time. Maintaining a strong relationship with your families, governors and PTA is important too. Reaching out to your staff and making sure that SLT is ensuring everyone’s safety and well-being is crucial. Line managers can ask what suits them, what their needs and capabilities are - as these will no doubt change as the week’s go by. 

Use the technology you have for remote conversations - and consider what you want to present as ‘education’ during these times. 

Some schools are producing lists for parents to engage with - others full time-tables of virtual schools (with live and archived lessons). Think what suits your students in their homes at this time - and then work with staff to execute this. 

Then move onto how you will support the transition back to full-timetables. How can technology move education forward in the future? How can your learning make your setting even better? And remember to unplug. You are important too.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"