Introducing Oak National Academy’s new online specialist curriculum

It’s been an academic year like no other, but I think we can all agree that teachers and families have done an exceptional job supporting children during school closures.

With the re-opening of schools for the autumn term, we all know it’s important to help children re-establish routines and be supported with any learning missed, especially those who normally attend a specialist setting or who have SEND.

About Oak National Academy

Oak National Academy was set up by teachers at the start of the coronavirus lockdown to support schools and families with remote teaching. As well as creating a full mainstream teaching offer, we offered a limited range of specialist lessons. We were delighted to see these being accessed around 100,000 times last term.

Teachers and families continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Many teachers and families are already experiencing challenges with children and classes having to isolate, often from the start of the new school term. I want them to know that they aren’t on their own and we just hope that Oak can provide at least some support.

600 specialist SEND lessons

I’m excited to share we’re expanding this specialist offer for the full 2020/21 school year. It has been a privilege to create this in partnership with a wide range of expert specialist schools, teachers and therapists from across the country.

Oak’s offer now contains over 600 free, high-quality specialist lessons and resources. Each lesson is designed to help teachers to provide more accessible learning opportunities for families with children at home, as well as help with lesson planning in the classroom.

Accessible and ambitious learning opportunities

Here at Oak, we spent a lot of time listening to feedback from teachers and families who used our resources last term.

Teachers told us, for example, that they wanted greater flexibility and the ability to download and edit lessons. So we’ve made that change, and you can now edit, download and pick and mix lessons from across the specialist and mainstream offering. This enables teachers to better tailor to and support children.

Whilst our initial lessons were aimed at children, we heard it was usually a parent who would support, translate and adapt the activity. We also heard heart-warming stories of siblings' support too. This year’s lessons, therefore, now include a wider range of resources for families to support learning. These include activity cards and downloadable resources, which can be used as a standalone material or to compliment the video lesson.

This invaluable feedback has enabled us to improve and make our specialist offering more inclusive, flexible and ambitious.

A new teacher hub

Families can find the lessons in Oak’s online classroom. To support schools, Oak has also now launched a new Teacher Hub. The hub has access to the video lessons, slides and worksheets.

The full offer includes:

  • Access to over 600 specialist lessons alongside thousands of mainstream lessons, easing teacher planning and allowing teachers to ‘pick and mix’ to meet needs across mainstream and specialist content.
  • Download and edit lesson slides and worksheets, wherever copyright allows, so teachers and families can tailor to children
  • New masterclass sessions in Creative Arts and Physical Development, and more lessons structured around Early Development, Building Understanding and Applying Learning
  • A wider range of family-focused resources to complement school learning
  • Support for every child with captions on all lessons, use of Makaton and printable resources for those without devices.

Specialist and SEND teachers and families have been doing brilliant work to support children in recent months. With our new specialist curriculum we hope they can now draw on extra support to make sure no child is prevented from learning and developing.

An example of the offering

Here are four short videos showing examples of the new content. Find the suite of lessons here. You can also watch/listen to the recent SNJ in Conversation video/podcast about our new curriculum with me, Tania and Renata at the end of this article.

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Anne Heavey

One comment

  1. anne B

    I’m afraid we can’t ‘all agree that teachers have done an exceptional job in supporting children during school closures.’ SNJ has previously covered surveys of parents of children with SEND which show how patchy and poorly thought out some of the provision has been, and how many children have been denied the opportunity to return to school because risk assessments have been weaponised.
    600 lessons sounds good, but if you start working out how many years it covers, and how many lessons a child should receive a week then it becomes less impressive.
    I think it’s time we started saying loudly and clearly ‘Many kids with SEND were abandoned by education, health and social care during the first wave of the pandemic and this has had a serious impact on them, and everyone else in their families. How will you do better during any second wave and what happened to the money that was allocated to schools via EHCP’s during the time that services weren’t being provided? Will that cash now be used for catch up services or has it conveniently vanished into budgets?’

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