COVID-19: “ITT providers and trainees are pulling out all the stops to make things work – their story must be told”

Emma Hollis, Executive Director, National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT)

It is just over two weeks since the government announced that schools would be closed to the majority of pupils for a prolonged period of time. Whilst media attention has inevitably, and rightly, focused on the implications for children and home-schooling, an untold story is the efforts of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers who have responded to confirmation that they will be able to award QTS at the end of a programme in the normal way, based on the trainee’s trajectory at the point their programme was interrupted.

In only a matter of days ITT providers have had to completely change their delivery models for current trainees as well as overhauling all processes for recruitment and interviews – and they are pulling out all the stops to make things work. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight what they and their trainees are doing during these challenging times to ensure that we continue to provide a flow of new teachers into the profession by shining a spotlight on their hard work, which goes above and beyond the norm.

The crisis has meant that significant resources and energies have been diverted to support their current cohort of trainees through a very difficult time. Not only have they had to invent and deliver an entirely new, distance learning programme of ITT (quite literally overnight), but they are also managing the mental health and wellbeing of trainees, trying to support schools within their partnerships, and managing their own staff and their reactions to the pandemic.

Like all of us, they are also managing families and vulnerable relatives, the adjustment to the new ways we are all being asked to live our lives and massive adaptations to the way they are being asked to work and communicate. On top of the personal and professional pressures they face themselves, they are relied upon to provide additional support to the trainees, who in turn are dealing with all the same issues.

Assessment processes are also having to be reinvented at extremely short notice and there is a lot of anxiety across the sector about getting this right and making it fair. Additionally, without formal guidance yet being published on how to manage those trainees who are not on a trajectory to meet the Teachers’ Standards, providers are coming under significant pressure from those weaker trainees who are either on a cause for concern or at risk of being placed on one as they do not have answers to their (understandable) questions about what will happen to them.

Providers are also recreating their recruitment processes at extremely short notice and this is often proving to be extremely complex and time consuming. They are being innovative in how they manage this (invigilating testing via video conference facilities, for example) but all of this takes a lot of time and energy and generates significant anxiety as normal recruitment processes which ensure we get the right people in front of our children, such as observing applicants’ interactions with children, cannot be incorporated during this unusual time.

Despite all these considerable hurdles to jump during this unprecedented situation, in the past week I have been hearing of many incredible ‘on the ground’ responses from ITT providers – just a handful of which I am sharing with you here:

“One of our primary trainees has made some PE videos for YouTube and a secondary trainee has been involved in making a short animated book for young children to explain the need for isolation. More widely, in terms of our approach to dealing with school closures and how we have adapted our provision, essentially this has been lots of regular email updates, online webinars to keep in touch and continue learning, and lots of individual phone calls and emails. An amended and very flexible set of expectations keep everyone feeling a sense of purpose and identity.”

Patrick Garton, Teaching School and SCITT Director, Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance

“Many of our trainees are supporting schools with online lessons/video conferencing teaching and helping the NHS volunteering. I am tracking all of this and therefore programmes for 60 trainees is very much on an individual basis. However, I have set some tasks they must all do for QTS i.e. home-school lesson planning and sequence planning for schemes of work. We are going to share the best ones for each subject for parents on our Facebook account. Central training and subject studies continue online, as we are using exam board resources to support marking and feedback. We have one meeting a week to discuss research on the Teachers’ Standards. They will record all of this in their evidence.”

Samantha Torr, Secondary Director, Colchester Teacher Training Consortium

“In the light of exceptional circumstances with respect to the Covid-19 situation, the safety and wellbeing of the SCITT community and partner schools were our highest priorities as we rapidly implemented reasonable alternatives to replace face-to-face sessions and school placements. The following programme adjustments were established to support our Associate Teachers (ATs) in being able to demonstrate that they continue to be on track to meet the Teachers’ Standards and so secure their award of QTS:

  • A clear programme of professional enquiries that relate to the knowledge that underpins the Teachers’ Standards.
  • A subject knowledge programme, so that ATs continue to develop their own curriculum understanding and the appreciation of the significance of this.
  • Weekly group tutorials to share teaching experiences so that each AT widens their understanding, by contributing to discussions and learning from others.
  • Weekly Zoom-teach opportunities. These enable our ATs to continue to develop their practice and pedagogy. We have used a metacognitive framework called Thinking Moves: https://dialogueworks.co.uk/thinking-moves/. Each week the ATs either teach in relation to a move and a subject or co-analyse the teacheing of others, so that they continue to develop both their teaching and their reflective capabilities.
  • One-to-one contact from PTs to ATs each week with a focus on wellbeing and progress through set tasks from the Zoom Tutorial and Adjusted Timetable Guide timetable.
  • Support for the final assignment included in the weekly online group tutorial and the revised reading list to include online sources.
  • Alternative enquiries have been provided for Lesson Study, Switch on Reading, Post Key Stage experience, Phonics and Safeguarding.
  • ATs are maintaining PSHE, Behaviour and Ethics enquires online and in discussion with their tutor and colleagues.
  • A new enquiry was created for British Values.
  • Specialism tutors crafted enriched curriculum knowledge using online group work and associated tasks.”

Diane Swift, Director, Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education

Never have we needed teachers more than now and never has the hard work and dedication of ITT providers been more vital in protecting the flow of entrants to the profession. None of us can know what the world, and our schools, may look like over the coming weeks and months but what I can confidently say is that the ITT sector will continue to rise to the challenge, surpassing all expectation and continuing to ensure our children have the very best teachers in front of them (or at the other end of a computer!).

UK EDUCATION PUBLISHERS AND CLASSOOS COME TOGETHER TO OFFER FREE TEXTBOOKS TO SCHOOLS

Supporting teaching and learning through the COVID-19 lockdown

Total UK school closures came along so quickly that many schools didn’t have a complete suite of online resources available to offer continued and complete online learning for their students. To address this Classoos, the enhanced mobile education platform, and its publisher partners including Oxford University Press, Hodder Education, Cambridge University Press, Bloomsbury, PG Online, Elmwood, Taylor & Francis, and Routledge have offered their books for free.

To ensure continuity of teaching and learning Classoos and its publisher partners are now able to offer their textbooks, all on the same platform, completely free of charge to any UK school for 90 days.

All teachers need to do is to complete an online form that starts the process to give them and their students complete access to a vast array of textbooks from the best and most popular education publishers.

Classoos is available over the web online, and with Apps for iOS, Android and Microsoft it is also available offline; offers thousands of textbooks which are searchable by curriculum, exam board, subject and language. While students are working virtually at home teachers can use it to give students lessons and assignments and continue their learning journey while the UK is still in lockdown.
Commenting on the offer, Tim Clark from Classoos said, “we’re delighted our publisher partners have agreed to work with us on this offer. As an education community we want to support teaching and learning as best we can. And as exams are cancelled this year – we realise that teachers will have to re-plan their lessons for the summer term – as they will no longer be holding revision classes. So now with the free content teachers can create new and in-depth lessons for that term”.

NordVPN offers educators its cybersecurity products for free

Expert explains online work protection matters

April 2, 2020. Due to the global pandemic, many universities and higher education institutions have moved their courses, exams, and even thesis defenses online. Many handy tools, like web conferencing apps, help people stay in touch during this hard time of self-isolation. But recent incidents show that they can’t be fully trusted.

Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN, says that even though moving studies online is an applaudable move, cybersecurity must remain a top priority. Criminals are doing their best to use the situation and scam vulnerable people.

Hackers can trick an employee into clicking on a phishing email. That would give them access to the employee’s computer and all accounts and systems it is connected to. There have also been reports of criminals breaking into virtual meetings. One careless click or connection to unsecured Wi-Fi can cause troubles no organization wants to face. Online security has never been more important. 

“We at NordVPN are moved by how the academic community is staying strong and trying to overcome the difficulties. We want to do our part in supporting employees of universities and other higher education institutions. That’s why we’re offering them free digital security services for six months,” says Daniel Markuson.

NordVPN, the world’s leading VPN service provider, invites educators facing lockdowns and other restrictions due to the pandemic to apply for 6 months of free NordVPN, NordLocker, and NordPass services.

VPN stands for “virtual private network” — a service that encrypts users’ internet traffic and protects their online identity. A VPN effectively grants employees working from home encrypted access to servers, systems, and databases that otherwise only could be accessed at an office. With a VPN turned on, no malicious actors can snoop on what people do online.

NordPass generates strong and unique passwords and keeps them in a secure vault. It also allows sharing passwords and notes among colleagues and students securely.

NordLocker encrypts all types of files on a computer and in the cloud. The tool keeps any work confidential and lets share it with colleagues and students safely.

An academic can apply for the free subscription by filling in a form. They will be asked to provide their work email address, the website of the university or other institution, and, if possible, a link to their faculty member profile. To see the list of the countries where educators are eligible for free subscriptions, please visit https://nordvpn.com/social-responsibility/educators/.

ABOUT NORDVPN


NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by over 12 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information: nordvpn.com.

Discovery Education Launches New App to Help Children Understand Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pupils and Families Experience the Science Behind Social Distancing from the Palm of Their Hands 

To help children of all ages understand social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Discovery Education today announced the launch of a new application for iOS products called Social Distance Training. This new app, available now at no cost in the Apple App store here, provides important educational information about safe and healthy social distancing through the power of augmented reality. 

Developed by Discovery Education, creators of award-winning digital resources such as Discovery Education Espresso and Discovery Education Coding, Social Distance Training offers a hands-on way to virtually engage children in the importance of social distancing. Accessed via the camera on a tablet or smartphone, the app places a holographic person in front of the user, enabling them to practice standing at a safe distance, with helpful prompts from the interactive app.

Complete with timely information about the health crisis, Social Distance Training provides a virtual understanding of what safe distance looks by leveraging augmented reality. While in the application, users can also access the latest information on COVID-19 from the NHS website.

The app has been developed by Discovery Education in partnership with The Afterschool Alliance, a leading US education nonprofit.

“Social Distance Training is another component of Discovery Education’s robust response to this global health emergency,” said Pete Weir, Chief Product Officer at Discovery Education. “Now, from the palms of their hands, students and teachers around the world can understand the power and benefits of social distancing and what it looks like.”

“Getting a true sense of safe social distancing can be challenging, especially for young students,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “The Afterschool Alliance proudly partners with Discovery Education to provide students an effective and cool way to see what social distancing looks like, all from the safety of their homes.”

Social Distance Training by Discovery Education can be found in the App Store here and will soon be available for Android products via Google Play.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Discovery Education is offering UK schools access to a range of free home learning resources. Visit www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/free-resources to access engaging resources for pupils at Foundation Stage to Upper Key Stage 2, including: videos, interactive activities, quizzes and worksheets along with free programmes such as Active Kids Do Better.

EduCare Make Courses Free in Response to School Closures

The impact of Coronavirus is affecting people in many ways. Duty of care and safeguarding training specialists, EduCare, recognise the impact that school closures will have on the safeguarding of children and young people, and have made a number of their courses and resources available for free online. 

The courses and resources, which are usually only available to customers, can now be accessed for free via EduCare’s recently launched Coronavirus Hub. 

Amongst these resources is information from EduCare’s owner TES, which will support teachers, schools and students during this time. This includes revision material, home packs and self-guided study material.

In addition to the free courses and resources, the Hub also contains the latest news and recommendations for good practice relating to the Coronavirus and children and young people whilst away from education.

Understanding that remote training will be vital to schools over the coming months, EduCare has also made seven online CPD courses available for free. These are: 

  • “Effective Health & Safety for Children with SEND and ASN”
  • “Parental Responsibility in Schools”
  • “Search, Screen and Confiscate for Schools”
  • “Risk Assessments for School Trips”
  • “Anti-Fraud, Bribery and Corruption”
  • “Cyber Security”
  • “Working with Display Screen Equipment”

Also available for free are wellbeing resources from EduCare’s EduSafe resource library. Designed for the community of parents and carers, and children and young people, EduSafe resources have been written with leading experts including Winston’s Wish, Karma Nirvana, YoungMinds, Mentor and The Children’s Society.

EduCare is communicating the message that whilst safeguarding has always been everyone’s responsibility, with school closures this will be more relevant than ever. Schools will soon lose day to day contact with their pupils and so our communities will need to act together to support children and young people.

The intention of the EduSafe resource library is to ensure that the community can access the same level of high-quality information as education staff receive as part of their training. 

EduSafe is split into two banks of resources – resources that are specifically designed for parents & carers, and resources that are specifically designed for children & young people. 

Topics covered within EduSafe include:

  • Mental health
  • Substance misuse
  • Dealing with bereavement and loss
  • Honour-based abuse and forced marriage

More directly related to immediate issues presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, EduCare’s Coronavirus Hub also includes free resources and information relating to the virus itself and preventing its spread. Within this section, there is also the most up-to-date news from TES editorial team, as the situation develops. To find out more, access EduCare’s Coronavirus Hub at https://www.educare.co.uk/coronavirus

Create stop-motion animations quickly, easily and for free!

If you are in need of some isolation inspiration why not get creative and make a stop motion animation! This is a perfect activity for all the family to enjoy yet simple enough for children to use independently.  Make amazing movies and share them with friends and family online.

Cloud Stop Motion is free to use and allows you to create stop motion animations quickly and easily, all you need is a phone or tablet (or a computer and webcam) and something to animate. Just go to cloudstopmotion.com capture your pictures, record some dialogue, add some music and sound effects, then create titles and credits to finish your film. You can then export your finished film as a video file (MP4) and share it with your friends and family and us! A fun and creative way to spend some time!

Closed Schools If your school is currently closed we would like to offer teachers a free 50GB organisation account, with unlimited student accounts. Students can create their animations within their student account, teachers can then watch, edit and export all their student’s animations from their organisation admin area. Teachers please do get in touch with us on animate@cloudstopmotion.com to request your free school account.    Everyone else, please do help us spread the word to schools and teachers about this free offer, we would like to help where we can in this uncertain time.

BNF launches new remote learning hub to support primary and secondary school pupils learning at home

Food – a fact of life, the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) education programme for schools*, has launched a new remote learning hub, the Food – a fact of life (FFL) Classroom, which comprises a range of free cross-curricular resources and activities for primary and secondary school pupils studying at home.

The FFL Classroom hosts a wide range of free, easy to access resources, covering seven learning approaches: everyday learning; finding out and exploring; being active; worksheets; interactive activities and quizzes; being creative (through writing, arts and crafts); and cooking. The FFL Classroom also provides tips and best practice advice for parents and carers.

Resources focus on key food themes within curriculum areas, such as where food comes from, cooking, and healthy eating, but also offer a range of opportunities for cross-curricular learning. Many resources and activities use food as a vehicle to provide engaging learning via subjects such as: numeracy, literacy, humanities, science, PHSE/health and wellbeing, D&T, religious education, and art.

The FFL Classroom is providing an activity or resource for every day, from now until 1 September 2020, with new sets of resources being launched weekly throughout the coming months. Each resource has been designed so that pupils can use them on their own and without parental/carer or teacher supervision (where appropriate) and are also accompanied by guidance for parents and carers.

Roy Ballam, Managing Director and Head of Education, BNF, comments: “To support the millions of parents and carers across the UK who are now facing the challenge of ensuring their children can continue their education, while all of the family is working and staying at home, we’ve reviewed our existing Food – a fact of life content, and have adapted and created new resources so they are easy to access, and simple to complete in a home environment.

“Food affects everyone, and food and nutrition education should remain a key part of your child’s school day, even during these strange times. As such, each resource will use elements of food science, healthy eating or cooking to form the basis of the activity, while teaching other valuable skills. The resources provide a variety of learning approaches – it’s not just about sitting down with pen and paper, learning should be exciting and should challenge a young person in different ways each day. By working together, we can help ensure UK pupils stay engaged, entertained and enthusiastic over the coming weeks and months, while helping to protect ourselves from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Challenging pupils across all areas of the curriculum, the ‘Everyday learning experiences’ section of the FFL Classroom includes activities like: “calculate how many times you’d have to walk around a room in your house to reach 10,000 steps” and, testing science knowledge, “Finding out why toast goes brown””. In the ‘Being creative’ section, tasks include “Describe the life, growth and death of a food poisoning bacteria by writing a story or poem, or drawing a cartoon, or storyboard” and “Create a health and safety poster for your kitchen at home.”

Commenting on the new hub, Robert Meyer, a parent based in London, said: “These are really testing times for everyone, and parents with young children are facing particular challenges. Juggling childcare and work is difficult at the best of times. With the extra home-schooling demands thrown into the mix I’m sure many parents like me are struggling to cope. That’s why I’m looking forward to trying out these new resources from BNF. I think they will help teach the children important information about healthy eating, but as importantly for parents like me, keep them occupied!”

Elaine Gardiner, PGDE Coordinator for Home Economics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow also comments: “I always encourage our student teachers to use BNF’s excellent materials in their classrooms. It is fantastic that BNF has been able to adapt, modify and develop its resources for this period of “remote learning”, with a plethora of activities that can be easily accessed by learners, parents/carers and teachers.”

In addition to the new FFL Classroom, Food – a fact of life hosts a range of free resources, such as: support for children aged 3-16 years; information on where food comes from, cooking and healthy eating; a free online nutritional analysis tool; a range of recipes, which can be filtered (e.g. non-cook, uses potatoes); videos and interactive quizzes; and a parental engagement area.

Allison Candy, a Subject Officer from examination board, WJEC, comments: “I have always recommended BNF resources to teachers in England and Wales who have delivered WJEC and Eduqas qualifications, so I am delighted to hear that we will soon have new learning activities available for children to continue learning about food when they are not in the usual learning environment. It will be great to get parents and carers as well as teachers actively involved in fun educational activities which will benefit all. Well done!”

To access the FFL Classroom please visit: https://www.foodafactoflife.org.uk/whole-school/remote-learning/

EduCare Make Courses Free in Response to School Closures

The impact of Coronavirus is affecting people in many ways. Duty of care and safeguarding training specialists, EduCare, recognise the impact that school closures will have on the safeguarding of children and young people, and have made a number of their courses and resources available for free online. 

The courses and resources, which are usually only available to customers, can now be accessed for free via EduCare’s recently launched Coronavirus Hub. 

Amongst these resources is information from EduCare’s owner TES, which will support teachers, schools and students during this time. This includes revision material, home packs and self-guided study material.

In addition to the free courses and resources, the Hub also contains the latest news and recommendations for good practice relating to the Coronavirus and children and young people whilst away from education.

Understanding that remote training will be vital to schools over the coming months, EduCare has also made seven online CPD courses available for free. These are: 

  • “Effective Health & Safety for Children with SEND and ASN”
  • “Parental Responsibility in Schools”
  • “Search, Screen and Confiscate for Schools”
  • “Risk Assessments for School Trips”
  • “Anti-Fraud, Bribery and Corruption”
  • “Cyber Security”
  • “Working with Display Screen Equipment”

Also available for free are wellbeing resources from EduCare’s EduSafe resource library. Designed for the community of parents and carers, and children and young people, EduSafe resources have been written with leading experts including Winston’s Wish, Karma Nirvana, YoungMinds, Mentor and The Children’s Society.

EduCare is communicating the message that whilst safeguarding has always been everyone’s responsibility, with school closures this will be more relevant than ever. Schools will soon lose day to day contact with their pupils and so our communities will need to act together to support children and young people.

The intention of the EduSafe resource library is to ensure that the community can access the same level of high-quality information as education staff receive as part of their training. 

EduSafe is split into two banks of resources – resources that are specifically designed for parents & carers, and resources that are specifically designed for children & young people. 

Topics covered within EduSafe include:

  • Mental health
  • Substance misuse
  • Dealing with bereavement and loss
  • Honour-based abuse and forced marriage

More directly related to immediate issues presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, EduCare’s Coronavirus Hub also includes free resources and information relating to the virus itself and preventing its spread. Within this section, there is also the most up-to-date news from TES editorial team, as the situation develops.

To find out more, access EduCare’s Coronavirus Hub at https://www.educare.co.uk/coronavirus 

Atom Learning is offering free, online tutorials hosted by professional teachers for all children aged 8 – 12

On Saturday, Atom Learning, a fully adaptive, teaching and learning platform designed for pupils aged 8 – 12 provided its first 35 minute online, live lesson to 978 year 5 pupils (10-year-olds) simultaneously in our virtual classroom entirely free-of-charge to parents. 

In one afternoon, and at a moment of crisis, Atom became one of the largest quasi-junior schools in the UK that’s available to everyone. A press release is attached to this email.

Wherever they are in the world, parents can book their child into any of our free lessons by requesting a clickable timetable from classes@atomlearning.co.uk.

Take a look at our 60-second video to see how it works.

In light of COVID-19, and with the support of our partner schools, Atom Learning will continue to provide unlimited free access to online live lessons hosted by professional teachers for the foreseeable future. From next week, Atom will be hosting a full daily timetable of lessons in English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. 

Please email alex@atomlearning.co.uk (co-founder) if you would like any further information. 

You can read more about the Atom Learning story here.

I have included some senior teacher comments I have permission to share below: 

COVID-19 specific 

‘Dulwich Prep was an early adopter of Atom Learning and we have been very impressed by the content and underlying technology from the outset. We find the lesson and homework builders very easy to use and have seen quantifiable improvements in pupil attainment, especially in reasoning. In the event we experience school closures, Atom will prove a valuable resource to supplement our online learning efforts.’ (Mark Scholey, Deputy Head, Dulwich Prep School).

‘Atom Learning has proved a very useful platform, both for work that is controlled by the school, and for self-directed learning. The tools available on the school platform have allowed us to establish online homework for pupils at a bespoke level of difficulty and timing, and focusing on specific skill areas within English, Mathematics and Reasoning. The pupils enjoy the work, the platform is straightforward for teachers to operate and monitor progress, and there have been quantifiable increases in pupil attainment’. (Tony Chan, Deputy Head, Sussex House School).

“Atom Learning set out to deal with the considerable challenges around private tuition by creating an affordable and adaptive online learning platform that schools and parents could get behind. Atom automates and surpasses the capabilities of even the most proficient tutor in a way that’s fun and engaging for the student. WCCS is very happy to support their good work and long may it continue!” – Neil McLaughlan, Head of Westminster Cathedral Choir School

AJ Products’ top tips for working from home

NOMAD

Due to the current situation, many people are finding themselves working from home for the first time. It’s a big change if you’re used to working in a busy office. Setting strict office hours, staying in regular contact with your colleagues and the right home office furniture can all make a big difference. Here are some tips from AJ Products to help you stay productive and keep your spirits up while working remotely.

  1. Keep in touch with your co-workers. Use the phone, online video conferencing, instant messaging tools, etc. to talk to your colleagues throughout the workday. There are a lot of tools available to ensure you can continue working as a team, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. A daily team catch up will keep you focused on common goals and boost morale.
  2. Stick to a routine. Working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a defined workday. If you have kids at home, you may need to adjust your work hours to accommodate childcare but try to stick to normal office hours as much as possible. Get up, get dressed and start your day at the same time as normal. At the end of the workday, turn off your computer, sign out of work emails and enjoy your free time.
  3. Separate your work and home life. Try to create a home office space where you can focus on your work. If you have kids or pets at home, try to separate your workspace from the rest of the house to prevent distractions: close the door if you can or set a schedule so that everyone knows when you need to concentrate or join a conference call. Set aside break times to spend with the kids where they know they have your full attention. Clear boundaries make it easier for everyone.
  4. Set up a proper work area. While it may be tempting to sit back on your sofa with your laptop balanced on your knees, that’s not a healthy way to work. Not only does it put you in the wrong frame of mind for working effectively, it is also really bad for your posture and can lead to back and neck pain. Ideally, you should sit up properly at a desk on an ergonomic office chair. If this isn’t possible, sit up at the dining table or breakfast bar. You should be able to sit with your wrists and forearms flat on the desktop with your elbows at 90° and the top of your screen at eye level. Investing in a good office chair will give you the right support and help you sit in an ergonomic position in order to prevent back pain, circulation issues and other health complaints. If you want to go one step further, set up a standing workstation. Sit-stand desks give you greater flexibility in the way you work and allow you to change your position throughout the day to reduce the health risks associated with sitting for long hours. If you’re going to be working remotely for a while, it’s important to be comfortable both for the sake of your long-term health and your productivity.
  5. Take regular breaks. Don’t stay glued to your screen all day. It’s important to take regular screen breaks where you get up from your desk and move around. People take natural screen breaks in the office to talk to colleagues, get a coffee or walk over to the printer; at home make the effort to take those same short breaks. There is no need to feel guilty about doing this; you’re still putting in the hours required of you and you’ll be more focused when you get back to your desk.
  6. Don’t work in complete silence. If you’re used to working in a busy office, you may find it hard to concentrate if it’s too quiet so put some music or the radio on in the background. Remember you’re trying to create a productive work environment so don’t put on anything that distracts you.
  7. Go for a walk. Take the time that would usually be your lunch break and go for a short walk. Getting out for some fresh air and a change of scenery will be good for both your physical and mental health, so you can get back to work refreshed. (If you are going outside, be sure to follow all government guidelines and stay a safe two metres away from anyone not in your household.)
  8. Exercise. Boost your energy levels by doing a mini workout. This could be as simple as incorporating basic exercises into your workday, such as sitting down and standing up ten times in a row or running up and down the stairs. If you want to get your heart rate up, do a fitness video in your lunch break or a 10-minute high-intensity workout on an exercise bike if you have one. Not only is exercise good for your body, it can also help you stay alert and focused.
  9. Make sure you know what is expected of you. One of the biggest worries people have about working from home is how your company will know you’re working as hard as you would in the office. Keep in regular contact with your manager and ensure you are clear on what they expect you to achieve and how they would like you to report back to them. Don’t worry: your results will speak for themselves.
  10. Ask for help. If you’re struggling to work effectively away from the office, share your concerns with your colleagues and manager. They can share their experiences and help you come up with strategies for staying focused and productive.

AJ Products is a supplier of workplace furniture and interior solutions that focuses on ways to solve the problem of a sedentary workday. As a member of ukactive, an independent not-for-profit organisation that aims to promote active lifestyles, the company is committed to making workplaces healthier and more active through an innovative and ever-growing range of sit-stand furniture and by raising public awareness of the health risks of prolonged sitting. Find out more at ajproducts.co.uk.