Welcome to the first ever Fronter UK blog post! We are very excited to bring you updates on what’s been happening in the life of Fronter UK. As well as linking you with information about upcoming events, we will be bringing you note-worthy pieces of news that we hope you will enjoy and benefit from. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in…
Naturally, hearing the term ‘Swine Flu’, whether innocently dropped into a private conversation or mentioned within a more public sphere, would result in even the healthiest of us feeling somewhat uneasy. For those who were settling back into a paranoia free existence, we needn’t remind you that winter is well on its way, and preparation for a new wave of a possible Swine Flu pandemic is becoming more of a necessity with each decreasing ⁰C. A new wave could potentially result in increased staff absences, and even school closures if a crisis plan is not established. Due to this, we are very happy to know that so many schools across the country have been preparing themselves for the worst, which has included developing their Learning Platform.
Enfield’s Highlands School and Somerset Local Authority are two examples of those who have realised the importance of this preparation. They have shared with us the plan that they have developed for a positive outcome, and how their Fronter VLE will play a part in keeping things running as smoothly as possible while the swine flu pandemic threatens to close their doors.
Ian Vardy, Senior Adviser for E-Learning at Somerset LA, feels that the availability of e-learning through an effective deployment of Fronter is one option Local Authorities and schools should plan for. The virtual school can become a temporary substitute for the physical school and classroom. Learners and educators can have continuing support for education while the schools are closed. In an LA wide implementation, rooms within Fronter can be used to support groups of learners from a number of schools by staff from various schools, as well as from consultants within the LA. “In Somerset we now feel ready to manage continuity of learning in the case of a flu pandemic, either later this year or at some point in the future. Without the availability of Fronter this would have been an almost impossible task.”
Of course the second wave flu pandemic may not strike. However, if not this year, then at some point in the future; in which case, it is almost certain that an epidemic of swine or bird flu, of pandemic proportions, will lead to school closures on a significant scale. Be prepared, by making Fronter part of your school and LA contingency planning.
In London, Highlands School in Enfield is also preparing for the possible pandemic; they’re using the London MLE to help keep things running, should the flu take hold of the capital.
Brian Durrant, Chief Executive of London Grid for Learning commented on the use of the London MLE for schools in this situation: “On-line access to the London MLE, (powered by Fronter), has already established, for a growing number of schools and pupils in the London Region, a practice of engaging in continuity of learning beyond the classroom. The threat of disturbance in learning and progression, posed by extreme weather or a pandemic outbreak, is significantly mitigated where teachers and learners are already cognizant and confident with interaction through this flexible and secure digital learning environment. Through proactive and collaborative strategic action leading to a regional implementation of Fronter, London LAs and their schools have put themselves ahead of the game.”
Before the summer holidays, Highlands School were already putting their contingency plan into action. They contacted all parents and carers informing them that the UN’s World Health Organization had raised the alert of swine flu to level 6, and that schools had been asked to plan for the eventuality of school closure or staff absence. They were also informed that their VLE (powered by Fronter) would be an important part of their plan.
“Highlands School have setup precautionary measures to limit the disruption of students’ learning in the event of a further break of the Swine Flu Pandemic,” commented Saiqa Liaqat, Assistant Headteacher of Highlands School.
“We have ensured that all students have access to Fronter, letters have been given to students and their parents offering a reminder of how they can log into Fronter and their username and password. The URL to access Fronter has been moved to the front page of the Highland’s website. The staff have been trained in using Fronter with arrangements in place for all subject areas to upload suitable work onto Fronter for students to be able to complete from any location. Teaching staff are being offered priority access to our in house staff ICT trainer for Fronter training to facilitate the creation of engaging e-learning content.”
These are just two examples of preparations that we’re aware of and we’re sure there are many more of you out there. So if you would like to share your plans for the possible swine flu pandemic, please get in touch!