With just under 400 pupils enrolled, Forefield Community Infant and Nursery School have been utilising their Whole School Membership with The National College to provide high-quality CPD to staff members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those at Forefield have been vocal in their praise of our remote learning hub, with the possibility for continuous development, despite the challenging situation we currently find ourselves in.

We caught up with Year 1 class teacher and art lead, Nichola Byrne, to garner a staff’s perspective on just how beneficial The National College has been for her and her colleagues.

Could you tell me about the background of your school and your position within the school?

Forefield Infant and Nursery School is a popular and outstanding school. It is closely linked to the nearby Forefield Junior School although it has its own Senior Leadership Team. Forefield Infants and Nursery is a three-form entry school in KS1 and Reception class with 60 children in its Nursery. The nursery offers am and pm sessions as well as all-day learning.

I am currently a part-time class teacher in Year 1 with the responsibility of being art lead throughout the setting.

Why did you choose The National College?

During the National Lockdown the Head teacher of my school directed us to The National College as an excellent opportunity for CPD during these challenging times.

I have been using the School Membership to access CPD and especially using those highlighted on the watch list.

How have you found the service from the National College?

I have found the service provided by the National College to be excellent and I know that my colleagues agree with me.

How much of a benefit have The National College’s resources been to you and your school?

The resources have been excellent. In particular when we have watched the webinar on ‘Using cognitive load theory to teach and improve numeracy’ by Ben Harding. It has made us rethink how we use our present scheme of work in maths and how adopting the approaches outlined in his webinar would be much more beneficial for our children, especially those in Year 1.

How beneficial has our 100% remote learning platform been during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It has helped me stay connected and for my CPD to continue to grow. It has reminded me of all the good practice that we have always delivered to our children and celebrated that ‘What makes effective teaching of Literacy’ by Ros Wilson confirmed this.

When I have spoken to the staff about the programme everyone has been extremely positive about how it has kept us connected and developing through this difficult time.

We’ve partnered with industry and education experts to deliver our webinars – how important is it to you that the information you are getting is 100% accurate?

It has been really useful to see all the documentation from the different experts and it has helped us keep up to date. As teachers we don’t usually have the time to read the documents, but at the moment we certainly have had the opportunity to do so.

If you could draw one positive from The National College’s resources, what would it be?

Experts delivering webinars on subjects they are obviously passionate about in a well informed and entertaining way.

How much of a benefit has the ability to undertake courses and training on an online platform, in your own time been?

It has been a huge benefit and has been able to fit comfortably around all my other commitments.

How much of a positive has it been to have all of the latest statutory guidance and policy changes updated by ourselves?

It has been vital to have that information updated by you for us to move on in the ever-changing cycle that is education.

Furthermore, how much of a benefit has it been to not have to arrange supply cover, which you would have had to in the event of a staff member(s) being away on a training course?

Budgets are tight and getting tighter all the time. All staff have had the opportunity to access this training from speakers that are experts in their field. A much better use of our time and resources.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for the opportunity to move on and develop my skills and understanding during this chaotic and confused time.

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