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Should parents be expected to home school?

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 Here we go again!

You may be forgiven for thinking that you are experiencing a touch of déjà vu, with the announcement by Prime Minister @BorisJohnson that schools will once again close on 5th January and parents will be responsible for home schooling their children.

Many parents feel that they have been thrown in at the deep end with no lessons learned from the initial school closures in March 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cancellation of GCSE and A Level examinations in the summer of 2020.

The Legatum Institute reports that there have been more than 150 days of significant disruption to schooling since the beginning of this pandemic, with Covid-19 having a devastating impact across a whole range of factors, these include:

  • Physical and mental health
  • Economic effects
  • Education disruption
  • General well-being compromised
  • Long term effects to health and the economy

How can the government help with home schooling?

We have heard many promises by the Education Secretary @GavinWilliamson of laptops for schools, colleges and councils but in reality only 560,000 devices have been delivered; falling way short of demand.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is quoted as saying:

“We know how important it is for children to be in school, but it’s also vital that where public health advice means they can’t be, we have all-encompassing measures in place to prevent them falling behind.”

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“That’s why scaling up our devices scheme, alongside our tutoring offer to reach as many children and young people as possible, is so important.”

“Providing one million devices is a hugely significant achievement, not only in the context of supporting children through the pandemic, but an investment in tech for our schools, colleges and children for years to come.”

He also stated that from January, the number of laptops will be ramped up to meet the one million target set; with any orders by schools being delivered within two days. The jury is currently out on this but within the following weeks, I am sure we will be able to assess for ourselves whether this scheme is working and on course.

Since the first announcement of school closures in March of last year, there has been a lot of time to consider the effects on children and how best to ensure that their education is disrupted as little as possible. Schools have attempted to roll out home learning as best they could, without adequate equipment, support and guidance; leaving a number of Head Teachers frustrated and concerned for the welfare of their staff members.

What could have been done differently?

In hindsight, perhaps schools could have been given the proper tools to put together online courses with video tutorials to ensure that lessons were not missed. As not all students have access to technology including broadband, paper-based lessons could have been provided. This would also have ensured that if it was safe to sit examinations, students would have been well prepared to do so and not disadvantaged. We hope this is the last time that schools will be closed but as we have seen before, nothing is set in stone.

Looking back, following the guidance issued, most people would have assumed that by now, life would have returned to normal but as it is far from normal, perhaps the time has come to ensure that education is protected and home schooling is carried out by the people who are specifically trained for this purpose, the Teachers! These are the people who are passionate about their vocation and given the right tools and support, they are the ones who can ensure that the next generation do not leave school without the important skills needed to contribute to society and build a better future.

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