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Oak National Academy to stay open for the next two terms to support Covid-19 resilience and teacher workload

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Oak National Academy (@OakNational) will stay open and free to use for at least the next two terms, the Reach Foundation has announced today. The move will allow schools and teachers to plan ahead for the start of the next academic year using Oak’s online lessons and learning resources.

Since schools fully reopened 30,000 teachers and 150,000 pupils have been using the platform each week, to support lesson planning, in-class teaching and cover lessons, homework and revision, and support for new teachers to observe experienced teachers’ lessons. 

But Oak’s usage has been increasing once again, reflecting the significant uptick in covid-19 infections and pupils self-isolating, with over 300,000 pupils using Oak National Academy in the final weeks of term.

The continuation of Oak National Academy will ensure there is a national back-up and contingency resources for schools as we head into an uncertain autumn and winter, with schools already considering what measures they may need to put in place should pupils test positive or be asked to self-isolate by Test and Trace.

The costs of the autumn and spring terms will be funded by an additional grant from the Department for Education of £2.1million. Reach Foundation, which has incubated Oak since its launch in April 2020, will continue as its host during this time. 

Oak will remain a small and highly-focussed organisation. Its overall annualised budget will be reduced by around 50%, with a staff team equivalent to that of a primary school, and a budget half that of an average-sized secondary school. It will provide a national back-up and effective insurance for all the country’s schools at the equivalent cost of £80 per school. 

Separately, the Reach Foundation has been asked by the Department for Education to consult with its partners and stakeholders about transferring the ownership of Oak’s brand, platform and associated intellectual property to the Department, as part of securing its long term future. Oak and the Department want to maintain Oak’s principle of curriculum independence, being ‘of the sector, for the sector’, and that our resources would remain entirely optional.

Three in four teachers surveyed say they plan to continue to use Oak after the pandemic. Teachers are keen to continue using the platform to support reducing workload, lesson planning, in-class resources and for any remote provision.

Ed Vainker, CEO of the Reach Foundation, said: 

“The Reach Foundation is immensely proud of what Oak National Academy has achieved, keeping millions of pupils learning during the pandemic.  

“We know teachers want Oak to carry on, continuing to find its resources invaluable now that they are back in the classroom. We are also mindful that Covid-19 will be with us in some form for the foreseeable future, and the autumn and winter may bring further disruption. I’m therefore pleased the Department for Education will continue to support Oak so it remains open and free as part of resilience planning for the next two terms.

“As the incubators and custodians of Oak, we have been considering a range of options so it can continue to support teachers and pupils for the long term. As part of this process, we’ve been asked to consult on transferring the ownership of Oak’s brand, platform and intellectual property to the Department. Oak and the Department want to maintain Oak’s principle of curriculum independence, being ‘of the sector, for the sector’, and that its resources remain entirely optional. We are consulting the schools and organisations involved in helping make it a success, to find the right sustainable future.”

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

“From being set up by a small group of teachers in under two weeks, Oak National Academy has become one of the great success stories as we tackle the pandemic. 

“Oak has helped millions of children and teachers while schools were closed to most pupils, ensuring high-quality education could continue.

“The impact Oak has made and the good it has done for the sector and children is immeasurable, and we will now look for the best way to harness that for the future.”   

 

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