Children and parents have risen brilliantly to lockdown challenge - so will need a summer holiday

Children are learning at home with schools closed in the fifth week of coronavirus lockdown. Picture

Children are learning at home with schools closed in the fifth week of coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Getty - Credit: Getty

A Norfolk primary school teacher has responded to a column in this newspaper which argued that schools should stay open over the summer. Here is her viewpoint.

Parents and children have done amazingly during the lockdown, says our column writer. Picture: Getty

Parents and children have done amazingly during the lockdown, says our column writer. Picture: Getty Images/GlobalStock - Credit: Getty Images

To suggest that the time spent away from school has somehow been wasted is a situation that, as a teacher, I don’t recognise. It does our children and their families a disservice.

In many ways, these last few weeks have been a utopia of learning. For a teacher, the idea of planning and setting work and then children having one to one support through that learning is something teachers could only dream of in the classroom – and it is getting results.

In the morning, I post all the work for the day: videos of me explaining what I want them to do, links to tutorials to explain grammatical terms or maths concepts, links to websites, examples of how I want them to approach a task.

Where possible, I record myself reading any information that the children need so that they can access it independently.

About an hour after this has been posted, the work starts to come in.

It is quality work. I read everything and I give children feedback.

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Sometimes a “well done - great work” is all they need, but I also give pointers for reflection and improvement and without exception this work is returned to me edited and improved. Progress.

The work has a flexibility about it that is difficult to recreate in the classroom.

I get messages from parents saying: “They really weren’t in the mood today, so we went for a walk and found leaves for a picture” or “We’ve started at 6.30 this morning because we want to go for a bike ride while the weather is nice.”

What a joy for each child’s day to be tailored to their individual needs!

Parents have adapted the work I have set to suit them, to work around their other commitments and to make the most of being a family together.

They have also emailed me in a panic about how to teach things, asked me to virtually intervene with unmotivated children, contacted me in tears about whether they’re doing the right things.

It has been very hard for our parents but make no mistake, quality learning has happened.

The vast majority of my class are engaging with me for a full day’s meaningful learning and whilst it is right to point to our poorest children being disadvantaged at this time, it is also true that schools have always been aware of their most disadvantaged children.

They are always working behind the scenes to support these families and know full well that when we return to school there will be some interventions for these children to come. That, I’m afraid, is normal school practice.

There may be some political reasons for keeping the schools open during the summer holidays but children missing a term’s education is not one of them.

Our school’s parents have risen to the challenge in a way that makes me quite emotional.

Our children have worked their socks off under stressful, worrying and alien circumstances.

When the summer comes, especially if restrictions have been relaxed by then, they will need the break. They have earned it.

*Here is the original column which argued schools should stay open over the summer.

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