ONLINE SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING - FINDINGS FROM A STUDY INTO HOW SCHOOLS HAVE SUPPORTED THEIR MOST ABLE PUPILS IN PREPARING FOR THE LEVEL 6 KEY STAGE 2 MATHEMATICS TEST
The end of Key Stage 2 (KS2), when pupils are about to move from primary to secondary school, is a crucial transition point in their schooling. Following a pilot in 2011, the Department for Education made level 6 tests available to schools on an optional basis in 2012 to enable them to stretch and demonstrate the abilities of the more able pupils. Schools have largely relied on single-school, classroom-based, ‘booster’ lessons to help their learners prepare for the level 6 tests.
This paper reports on the findings from a pilot study commissioned by the Centre for Professional Education (CPE) at the University of Warwick. In addition to support provided for the students in their own school, each of the project partners were provided with the hardware and software that would enable their learners to access an online synchronous learning channel. The aims of the project were to evaluate the effectiveness of providing targeted preparation and support via an online virtual classroom. The synchronous learning environment provided an opportunity for able students to interact across a common intellectual plane and to develop their problem solving skills and mathematical thinking skills, but amongst a peer group that was not just restricted to their own school.
The paper outlines the challenges encountered in managing a synchronous learning environment and the key outcomes for the project stakeholders; which included the students, the schools and the online teaching team.