Case studies

Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis at The White Horse Federation

Helping a large MAT come through the coronavirus lockdown in a position of strength.

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The Client

The White Horse Federation

Last year, Eduprise helped the White Horse Federation, a multi academy trust in south west England with over 30 schools, effectively communicate as the coronavirus pandemic developed, build an innovative and highly effective home learning platform from scratch, and eventually come out of the crisis in a stronger position than when it had entered.

In this case study, we explain how Eduprise worked with trust leaders and the school improvement team to achieve these outcomes.

The Challenge

The Challenge

For an academy trust of 32 different schools in the south-west of England, the COVID-19 crisis demanded solutions to a whole raft of problems and uncertainties.

Among the issues facing the trust were:

  • The sheer volume of information that needed to be communicated to parents and how to relieve the pressure this put on teachers to provide answers.

  • The need to communicate ever-changing information to different stakeholders, such as parents and carers at different schools and staff within the organisation.

  • How to provide educational materials to pupils away from school?

  • How to identify and manage which pupils could return to school at different times and communicate this clearly with parents and staff?

The Solution

To address these issues, the eduprise team implemented a range of communications strategies.

These included:

  • A regularly updated COVID-19 health information page on every school website.

  • Unique, live-updated school status pages on each school website.

  • A live chat on each school website.

  • A weekly issued form for parents to identify themselves to their schools as key workers.

  • Extensive FAQ pages.

How Each Measure Addressed a Specific Problem

Each communication addressed a different problem facing the trust. The health information page provided parents and staff with a clear presentation of the lengthy Public Health England advice. This relieved pressure on teachers to provide answers and ensured that no mixed-messaging was received by parents.

To respond to the fact that the situation was different in each school, a live school status page was published on every school website. An open spreadsheet detailing the operating status of each school was shared with all principals. The marketing team updated the status pages live as principals inputted any changes in the spreadsheet. This allowed parents to confidently rely on the school website and significantly reduced confusion at school gates. Between 1st March until the end of the school year the status pages were viewed a total of 34,6918 times by over 14,807 unique visitors.

Implemented early, the live chat function gave parents a means to get answers for specific questions from the trust. From their initial implementation until the end of the school year, parents and carers were able to find answers for 5,959 enquiries using the live chat. The live chat also helped the trust identify issues that required a larger response from the trust. Keeping a record of every interaction, the marketing team compiled and published extensive FAQ pages for parents, carers, and staff.

Giving advice and information on topics ranging from free school meals to finances to support for key worker families, the FAQs pages established the school websites as a genuinely useful resource. From 23rd March until the end of the school year, the FAQ pages were viewed over 15,000 times, an average of approximately 500 times per school website.

To address the management of provision for key worker families, forms were sent to parents every week to determine how many pupils would attend each day. Knowing the numbers, the trusts schools were better able to allocate resources and staff where it was needed.

Once the lockdown had begun, the next problem was how to continue educational provision while schools were closed.

While secondary schools in the trust had experience with virtual learning environments and distance learning, the primary schools in the trust were, at first, only equipped to send out physical packs of learning materials to families.

To facilitate direct communication between parents, all primary schools in the trust were connected with a virtual learning environment within a week of the schools closing.

Eduprise then collaborated with the central school improvement team then collaborated to produce a weekly updated home learning resources page for every primary school.

Every week, specialist teachers from the School Improvement Team created an easily navigable timetable of lessons and activities led by introductory videos.

By standardising the home learning resources provision, eduprise enabled the trust to dramatically reduce the workload on teachers to provide home learning materials. This allowed them to focus on pastoral support work, and spend considerably more time interacting with each child.

The home learning pages were used extensively by the thousands of families at the trust. At Forest & Sandridge Primary School, for example, over 6,000 unique users accessed the home learning resources page, showing that the sites were even being visited by users outside of the school.

What They Said

The resources were also well received by the National Literacy Trust, who reported on the pages positively here: “the team created videos explicitly modelling the lessons, meaning children could follow them more independently.” “They have had great feedback from parents, who are grateful for the ideas that are suggested and the clear explanations that have been given alongside.”

Alison Capstick, Head of the School Improvement Team, said: “The support we have received from Eduprise during this unprecedented time has been beyond incredible.”

“The team was instrumental in developing a manageable and effective home learning page on our school websites which all stakeholders could access and enjoy.”

“The team was always on hand to provide a solution to make sure our families had what they needed for home learning. The feedback we have received from both parents and teachers has been fantastic and we as a Trust are so grateful for the hard work and dedication shown by the team.”

The support we have received from Eduprise during this unprecedented time has been beyond incredible.

- Alison Capstick, Head of the School Improvement Team

The Outcome

The actions taken have better equipped the trust to communicate in future crises or initiatives. By reliably providing important information and guidance for parents and carers, the trust has also greatly increased parental engagement at many of it’s schools.

The extremely well-received home learning pages helped prevent thousands of children falling behind academically and kept them in closer contact with their teachers. Additionally, the infrastructure put in place is ready to be used in future situations in which children will be learning from home.

Through it’s quick and comprehensive response and the input of Eduprise, The White Horse Federation was able to come through the crisis in a stronger position than when it had entered.

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