Lockdown Poll

Last week (towards the end of May) we put out a poll to see what experiences people were having of teaching in lockdown. The reason for this was simple – a lot of people were feeling a bit adrift and clueless about what’s going on out there, and subsequently allowing themselves to feel guilty over ‘not doing enough’ or not having full pupil engagement. After gathering responses from 178 people, the results have been pulled below. I don’t want to offer too much comment, tempting as it is, but I would like to point out that there is an amazing diversity in what is being asked of teachers, as well as student experience out there. The ‘tips’ at the end are great, with a few themes emerging, and I think it’s best to publish them all as they were submitted.

Thanks to all who contributed. I hope you find the results interesting and reassuring, and you may even pick up some good ideas!



Would you say you are working more or less hours (not counting commuting) than before the lockdown started?

  • Much more – 22%
  • A little more – 23%
  • About the same – 19%
  • A little less – 28%
  • A lot less – 14%


Have you worked with pupils directly (eg in HUBS) since schools shut?

  • Yes – 28%
  • No – 72%


How many hours per week, approx., are you expected to be ‘live’ or online for students?

  • None – I can set, mark and respond to emails whenever I choose – 57%
  • Up to 4 hours per week – 6%
  • Between 4 and 8 hours per week – 11%
  • Between 8 and 12 hours per week – 8%
  • Over 12 hours per week – 16%
  • N/A – 1%


Looking at the last fortnight, on average how many of your BGE pupils have engaged with online learning (by engaged, we mean you believe they are doing the work, rather than just viewing it)

Looking at the last fortnight, on average how many of your Senior Phase pupils have engaged with online learning (by engaged, we mean you believe they are doing the work, rather than just viewing it)

Have you changed timetable to start SQA courses for Senior Phase, and if so when?

  • Not yet – 20%
  • We’ve started been 1st May and end of May – 64%
  • We started in April – 15%
  • N/A – 1%


Any advice or tips for increasing pupil engagement in online learning?

  • They like hearing your voice – either audio on powerpoints or live lessons
  • Not really, I’m afraid. If you use the @ in Teams you can make sure that individuals or whole Teams get notification of your post (I’m sure everyone knows this!). I had a little bit of success in getting responses by prompting, but insights suggests that pupils are not even looking at the work set, suggesting lack of engagement is not down to tasks.
  • Posting worksheets/activities that they can do directly onto electronically? We’ve also been trialling our the audio recording of information because the literacy demands of history can be a big challenge, especially for younger kids
  • Voice notes seen to be working well!
  • Gentle reminders between posting the work and the due date – many of our pupils forget that they have the work to do or might have missed it in the first place! This helps us get another few submissions but still generally low.
  • Many pupils ignore the Team post questions until I email them directly. Some are embarrassed to comment or ask question in the class Team space so I encourage them to use my email instead
  • Better technology. Simpler instructions.
  • I have found that emailing students directly helps get a bit of engagement. I have set up contact lists for each class and have BCC them into an email rather than have them all view each other’s email addresses. I then email individuals who have not responded to check in on them. I’m not pushing the work but just checking they are OK and we occasionally discuss things like pets which improves our relationship and in turn I get work back. We have unofficially changed timetable. We are due to change on 9th June but we are communicating with our new senior classes. BGE engagement is very poor now – and being in SBC all our students have an iPad so should be able to access all work. SBC have also issued guidance on how quickly we’re expected to respond to work etc. but there are no set timescales and we do not have to do live lessons at the moment. There may be ‘drop in’ help sessions once the timetable changes in June.
  • When doing a live lesson on Teams, all pupils must comment on the thread where they entered the lesson – this acts as an instant messaging system and easier to keep an eye on. Ask questions that need responses throughout the lesson and either get them to write answers in the thread or click emojis to show they know what they are doing (like button) or are stuck (sad face button). They then have to listen in as they don’t know when they will be asked to contribute or react. Works pretty well with seniors and juniors.
  • Keep it simple, stick to the amount of time you would see them ie – 1 period a week of S2 3 periods a week of S3 so there is going to be more S3 work. Set Once a week the work for the week. voice over power points for explanation.
  • Keep activities short and focused. Take a few weeks to build up to bigger tasks. Regular contact with parents who may be unaware that pupils are not engaging.
  • Try to make work as simple as possible. Break tasks down into small steps and avoid open-ended projects. Put all resources together e.g. Paste slides into word documents alongside sources and tasks.
  • No but I would love to hear the responses from this! I have tried Team meetings, polls, PowerPoint voiceovers, pick ‘n’ mix tasks etc.
  • I wish I knew and I would be doing it myself. Keeping it simple seems to help with BGE. Quizzes they can access easily seem to have a better uptake than stuff than needs them to upload anything
  • We are recording explanation videos. Making interactive games for the BGE: crosswords, card sorts, escape rooms, quizzes.
  • Communicating directly with them has helped a little, I have emailed them to ask if there was any issues etc and this seemed to get a few more working. This is, of course, reliant on them accessing their emails.
  • Make lessons short, snappy and fun
  • Audio PowerPoints, regular Team meetings
  • Setting very small manageable tasks. I was asking pupils to hand in a paragraph at a time. Feedback has taken me forever online but since they got feedback the engagement has continued. 27/29 Higher pupils have handed in an essay with three pieces of feedback from me already. N5 engagement has been poorer but still over 60%
  • use polls and quizzes that self mark using forms
  • We have not started our new timetable yet. Getting pupils to do fun tasks and google forms has really helped. Also official assessments really helped increase pupil engagement.
  • Teams assignments, keynote presentations.
  • A mixture of media to support different learning styles. I do a welcome video for each week where I review previous learning/verbal feedback and outline the learning intentions and importance of this weeks lessons. On top of this I have audio on PPT, encourage class discussion with written contributions on Teams, and offer one opportunity a week for an online conference for real time support with the work. This is all with the senior phase. Our BGE is conducted via Show My Homework which limits interactions purely to feedback on work submitted or quizzes undertaken. I have noticed that quizzes get engagement from some pupils but not others, whereas submission of projects or written work picks up others, usually those with ASN.
  • I just try to be encouraging as I can but I don’t know if that helps as I think they might do others work before mine. I got more response before time table change when I had a grid of activities rather than now when I’m posting proper work. Not sure if it just seems like too much for them.
  • We have e-mailed pupils directly who have not been engaging in our subject areas. Where pupils are non -engaging across a range of subjects then Student Support staff have been directly phoning home – this has had a limited impact. We are working on Online Sessions once a week for Senior Phase students – generally so far these have been poorly attended – I had 19 students from a possible 67 yesterday and the level of participation is virtually non-existent. On the plus side those students who have engaged are by and large producing work of good quality. I have tried to encourage greater participation by doing little quizzes and discussions of topical issues before “starting work” but again with limited impact. Also finding Glow / Teams struggles particularly at peak times so often find myself having to access pupil work later at night and at weekends. Finding the whole Online experience quite tiring and frustrating tbh and really missing face to face interaction with kids – would like to try to use Zoom but have been told its not allowed for child protection reasons . My wife teaches in Secondary as well and our daughter is moving into S3 so with laptops / I-Pads /Visualisers cluttering up our living room its difficult to find a balancing act at times – especially if one of us is on a Live Teaching Session or Zoom DM . Fed up of the whole thing and desperate to get back into the classroom to teach – but I know it will be some before that resembles what it looked like before March 23rd when Lockdown began. Sorry for the rant !
  • Keep directions for activities as simple as possible!
  • Still trying to figure that out!
  • Varied tasks. Plenty time for consolidation
  • I started in a new school after Easter so it is hard for me to answer this! I also work in an ASN school. I am currently covering a (Business) colleague’s timetable but engagement across the board seems very low and while some students pop up everyday, this seems more to say hello than to engage with work. Last week our school did Outdoor Learning Week and posted daily activities such as taking pictures of their daily walk, a leaf ID sheet to identify trees, links to online resources to do with nature and some subject based activities. This seemed to go down well with the pupils and their families. This week is the first week I have posted work for the students so am not sure how it will go. I’ve been doing a mix of literacy tasks (read and answer questions), research (a question for them to find out the answer to) and more open ended activities (create a leaflet / poster / Powerpoint to encourage people to go to the Olympic Games). I’m hoping a variety of tasks will mean they will engage with some! I’ve heard that quizzes go down well with pupils as well.
  • We seem to have the most success for engaging BGE pupils by setting short Google forms quizzes on each lesson for that week. The engagement of these tasks have been higher than a task such as creating a storyboard of the death of Alexander III of Scotland. I am not sure about Senior phase as I am in charge of S2/S3 classrooms. It seems that the Senior are either engaging with everything or not at all. In this case, I would see it as Year Head/Guidance/Pupil Support responsibility to get involved as online/blended learning is going to be the norm for the foreseeable future.
  • Short tasks. Quizzes are a massive hit. Learning menus / grids.
  • In my opinion, I feel by providing opportunities for pupils to complete work is more than enough. They have enough pressures going on in their lives at the moment. If they choose to access it, fantastic if they don’t then so what? Work will need to be covered when we go back regardless. So by providing work is ample.
  • don’t give them too much work!
  • Email parents direct if possible. Pupils are not talking to their parents about their work and parents are emaling in to say they have no work but they do. Keep a structure to all your classes for example; email out work on Monday, due in on Thursday morning , mark on Thursday and Friday and return it before Monday. Obviously you can structure it as you like however its important to have a weekly routine.
  • I have done a survey monkey to see what is causing issues: lots of kids share the technology to get online, many can only access the resources at a set time and a lot don’t have the IT skills to access Teams. I have received emails from kids with the entire email written in the title bar. Technological generation is a myth: gaming does not an IT genius make! These systems are not familiar to many pupils and they are struggling.
  • I’ve found voiceovers on PowerPoints has helped with new content for the seniors. Also class meets on teams allows you to speak to the pupils all at once and tackle any non engagement in person (kind of).
  • I work in a Glasgow school with 87.2% living in SIMD 1. A large number of my pupils have accessed the learning community foodbank (an additional resource to the foodbank). Many of my pupils do not have digital devices, WiFi and those with mobile phones do not have sufficient data to do (or chose not to do) school work. Also, many pupils access electricity via cards. I think the attainment gap is growing daily due to poverty. I believe Covid-19 will impact negatively on many pupils life chances more than ever. Hope this helps you and thank you for taking the time to make up the survey. Angela ?
  • Simplicity in instructions is key. I’ve found the National level pupils are very needy in the reassurance on what has to be done. Definitely don’t set as much work as you would get through in class. There is no substitute for classroom teaching. My biggest worry is the third of pupils not working. When back in school, we will have to teach everything again. SQA have to, MUST, take this into account. Exams should be cancelled early, or pupils should be able to pick 2 of the 3 Units to answer, as it will be impossible to complete the course.
  • Giving them devices they can access it on! Most of our pupils have no access to devices other than their phones, and having broadband, a quiet place to work and support from an adult are also major issues for them. We need to get paper booklets out to them. It will be better in August when we see them at least once a week and can chase them for work.
  • We have set a time it should take to do each activity and we have noticed quizzes get good engagement, plus making sure things are accessable on phones. The simpler the better. We have also been leaving messages on SMHW/teams to push engagement.
  • I think its about helping pupils understand the importance of what we are teaching. in BGE we had the best engagement during VE week as they were tasked with creating a poster which would be stared on the school website. Around 2/3rs of S1 and S2 pupils submitted work.
  • I think it should be up to SMT to try and make sure students/parents are logging on to check and complete work. Programmes such as show my homework show when students were last online. For many of mine it says never logged on or last logged on 1 year ago for example. I do not have the information to chase these students down not do I know any sensitive information which may prevent them from logging on. I do not feel SMT are dealing with this problem/keeping us up to date if they are dealing with this.
  • I seem to get more responses when I record audio onto a powerpoint (as opposed to just setting work they’ve to read), but even requests to ‘like’ my messages are only met with responses from around 1/3 of pupils. So, no, not much advice to give that would help!
  • Make the work simple. Break it down into manageable worksheets – don’t put at whole units of work and say do work page 10. I tend to say thanks for completing the work as it may help or encourage them to do more. Giving them positive feedback is also something I’ve been giving pupils rather than focussing on what they’ve done wrong.
  • Phone calls home. Parents are often surprised as they thought their kid was engaging!
  • Parents need more encouragement to get kids working
  • Using the teams insight tool seems increase participation
  • https://sway.office.com/MOKG0mh8iXxs2yse
  • Don’t overload the pupils with too many tasks. Every task that is sent out is a homework task because it’s not completed in ‘real time’. Most schools are not using Zoom or Google Meet to hold lessons online in real time. So if pupils receive three assignments on days that they would normally have a subject, it becomes a huge task to complete the work and a huge task for staff to mark and return the work. I also think schools could have (not sure if some have already) timetabled the work in a more effective way. One idea could be to ask staff to post work on a Monday for S1, Tuesday S2 and so forth. This could stagger the work for the pupils and the creation and marking of work for the staff. At the moment we are required to post work on one specific day. In hindsight, it might be worth trying to create a timetable for different year groups. I realise that this is unlikely to be a perfect system. But it may have more success that the present situation in my own school where work is posted at the end of the week, and in other schools where the work is being sent out ad-hoc.
  • Audio powerpoints and small tasks.
  • Keep tasks simple, clear instruction and provide prompt feedback.
  • Group work where they facetime/ videocall friends and work together works well.
  • We are finding it is not just those with IT issues who are unable to do the work. Some who have access to IT are unable to complete for various reasons or have informed their PCS teacher that they have no intention of working from home. It is worrying because I can see the attainment gap widening further. We have tried recording over our powerpoints and uploading them via youtube which has helped pupil with work but I wouldn’t say it has massively increased engagement.
  • Pupils and parents need to understand that they have to take responsibility for learning. This has to come from government. Some families can’t access online learning, but the majority can and need to work around the need to work and the need for children to learn.
  • More video online meets and sessions. Some schools or authorities are running this. I personally would find this difficult with childcare situation
  • Chatty personal feedback messages on SMHW. Bright and breezy tone in task descriptions. Giving element of choice via learning grids. Variety of task. Using Microsoft forms as a getting to know you exercise now classes have rotated and replying to each with a personal message about their responses. I see a big part of my role as being a supportive point of normality. Have also run teams sessions with kahoot quizzes but uptake was limited.
  • Short, varied, straightforward activities. Activities that allow pupils to express themselves creatively as well as directed questions that allow them to demonstrate their learning without having to ask for help. Lots of scaffolding for exam style questions. Keeping as much information as possible in one place. Making use of current documentaries. Being supportive in personal feedback to pupils, even when they are only managing some of the work. However, even with all this, engagement is low. Some pupils are not working at all and others are choosing which subjects to work on. Some say they are doing the work but don’t hand it in. Sadly this brings some relief as online marking takes forever and I don’t know when I would have time to do it if everyone was handing in their work.I’m kept going by some of the amazing pieces of work that are being submitted and the pupils’ creativity.
  • We have already reduced the volume of what we post and have agreed to accept we will not be able to teach the same volume of content that we would, had we been in school. We post one day a week and this has helped some engagement. Using screen cast to record audio PowerPoint has also helped but pupils are restricted due to online access and lack of digital skills.
  • Adding audio/video teaching along with powerpoints seems to be going down well and increasing pupil confidence in the work set.
  • Try to use as much variety as possible. I have been getting my AH pupils to submit voice comments, using Kami, to identify the main views of a source. For S1 and S2 a mix of short videos, a Slides presentation and access to an online text has worked well for weekly tasks. We are lucky to be able to have Google Meets and this allows for whole class Q&A as well as live Quizlet.
  • I have been using twitter along with the school app to inform pupils, parents and the community!
  • Pupil understanding, quick feedback and smaller chunks
  • Remind them to scroll down page as seemingly they often think it is static on their phone or tablet. Write in forms working well but pupils’ IT challenges is the biggest issue. Putting pictures in to Word documents to help thinking affects layout when students open them. Shorter tasks. Differentiated for all.
  • Building relationships with individual pupils.
  • Direct contact needed and a referral/tracking process to do this
  • Getting them to do videos – Flipgrid is good! Work at the start of the week for the end of the week. Drop in chats to ask questions – live lessons with quizzes / games.
  • Without knowing the home context for pupils re access/wifi etc, it’s hard to determine if they want to engage but can’t or are choosing not to engage. Quizzes on forms, kahoots and getting to know you quizzes have proved popular in our faculty. We took a more creative approach in the beginning, task menus etc but had very few hand ins so have been simplifying our work and uploading our course booklets for BGE and using the online textbook tasks for seniors. And for easiness for both staff and pupils- a read, watch, do format and adding commentary to simplified powerpoints. The seniors are handing in more since we changed to new TT. Some colleagues have started delivering live lessons for Adv H and H and are reporting greater engagement on Teams as a result so that’s my next step. The SATH group is very helpful for ideas and tips – reassuring to see not all are having high levels of pupil engagement ‘doing the work’
  • Learning as I go using the technology myself! In addition, I am designing resources for people of all abilities to be able to complete, and providing support to pupils as and when they ask questions. The hardest thing is that I know I will have to re-teach topics for senior phase because many in the class have not engaged at all, so I will have to redesign lessons so the ones who have completed the work do not get bored – doing double the workload.
  • We’ve tried all manner of different things in our lessons. I think if they won’t turn on the computer there’s only so much you can do. The school has been calling pupils with no online engagement and it’s quite interesting to see that parents often were not aware of this.
  • Give regular feedback online Differentiate work Encourage questions