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Collaboration as key to effective staff development during distance learning

Written By: Barbara Terziyski
3 min read


Chace Community School is a Community Secondary School in Enfield, north London. It has approximately 1250 students on roll including 225 doing post-16 studies. Thirty-five per cent of our students are in receipt of pupil premium funding, with 279 eligible for free school meals, 18.5 per cent are students with SEND. About 450 of our students speak more than one language at home mainly Turkish, Polish, Greek and Albanian.


Once we had managed to equip as many students as possible with the hardware needed to access online learning, our main challenge was to ensure that students could engage effectively with live distance and hybrid learning. Going back to our recent PD theme of utilising Rosenshine’s principles in action, we wanted staff to consider how the very same practices (providing high quality explanations; modelling difficult concepts; scaffolding to ensure access; achieving a high success rate before moving on) could be achieved in online lessons.


We implemented a variety of tools to help us achieve these principles during online lessons. These tools were trialled by individual members of staff and then good practice was shared with the whole school staff body during INSET and Twilight CPD sessions online. The most useful tools included using Google Jamboard for gaining students’ ideas and promoting discussion, for quick fire questioning to check understanding and Google Docs through Google Classroom to allow teachers to see students’ live writing online and provide verbal or written feedback to individuals and the whole class. There were also some ‘quick tips’ which were shared to encourage all students to engage with questioning, such as using CTRL + F on the keyboard to search for student names in the ‘chat’ to monitor participation Another tip was to ask all students to enter their answers into the ‘chat’ but press enter all at once after a countdown by the teacher. These strategies were particularly effective in promoting engagement and were very quick and easy to implement. Staff also experimented with Mote for marking work using recorded verbal comments, as well as Google Forms for quizzing and Rubrics for speeding up online marking and assessment.

PD was delivered through:

  • weekly tips in the staff bulletin
  • fortnightly staff briefings, live but also recorded and shared in Staff PD Google Classroom
  • twilights – live, remote PD sessions
  • coaching system – staff in pairs/ triads supporting each other – reflective journals completed
  • bespoke support on request
  • sharing good practice in online department meetings.


In December 2020 we carried out staff reviews. Seventy-one per cent of respondents agreed that the quality of CPD enabled them to deliver online lessons effectively. The main challenges that were reported were around workload (marking in a new format, re-planning for a new platform) as well as monitoring engagement with student cameras off. As a result, many staff felt that lesson time was less productive than lessons delivered in school. To counteract this, we implemented a number of strategies to address expectations of students including regular contact home managed centrally by the attendance team and form tutors. We also reviewed our marking policy to ensure it was fit for purpose under the circumstances. In February 2021 we carried out student reviews. Overall, approximately 80 per cent of students felt that moving to online learning had not hindered their teachers’ abilities to support their progress.

Going forward

Our trainee teachers have carried out a research project to look at what we can learn from online learning. As a result of their analysis, we are reviewing our homework protocols to use the skills we have all gained to further boost student learning. We are also looking at how we can be more effective at managing how we support students who miss learning when they are not at school by providing materials and pre-recorded videos on our online Classrooms.

All our PD in school is now recorded. We are using many of the tools we have discovered to continue to enhance PD in school. While the experience does not provide an alternative to high quality teaching in person, it has given us the time to explore a number of online tools which we will undoubtedly continue to use to support our commitment to high quality teaching.


  • Research strategies and tools thoroughly and practise yourself
  • Use the strategies you are promoting to deliver PD
  • Choose key colleagues to share success stories


Barbara Terziyski is Senior teacher at Chace Community School, UK.

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