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‘Do the best you can and do not feel guilty’ education chiefs tell home-schooling parents

PUBLISHED: 19:00 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:58 29 April 2020

Parents have been told by Suffolk NEU to do the best they can to educate their children at home and not feel guilty if they have struggled. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

Parents have been told by Suffolk NEU to do the best they can to educate their children at home and not feel guilty if they have struggled. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

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Education leaders in Suffolk are praising the efforts of parents who are teaching their children during the coronavirus lockdown, urging them not to feel guilty if they have struggled.

Suffolk NEU spokesman Graham White said any activities parents could do with children at home would be beneficial. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTSuffolk NEU spokesman Graham White said any activities parents could do with children at home would be beneficial. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Many parents have effectively had to juggle becoming home tutors for their children while working from home or caring for loved ones since lockdown began in March.

The Suffolk branch of the National Education Union said it was talking to the government on what a return to school could look like – including on whether Years 10 and 12 should be prioritised – but urged parents to be proud of any education they have been able to give during lockdown.

MORE: Follow the Suffolk Coronavirus Facebook page for latest developments

NEU spokesman for Suffolk, Graham White, said: “It is certainly true that pupils at home are getting a less satisfactory academic education overall and are losing out on the social and emotional education.

“Some pupils inevitably are not getting as rigorous an overall education at home than they would get at school. The divide between the most able and least able is going to be magnified as a result of Covid-19.

Kesgrave High School head teacher Nigel Burgoyne said online learning platforms had been invaluable during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: SU ANDERSONKesgrave High School head teacher Nigel Burgoyne said online learning platforms had been invaluable during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: SU ANDERSON

“The priority once the rules are relaxed is to get the most vulnerable back into school and to assist those who have had the least education at home.

“We must not and should not blame parents for the lack of rigour in home education.

“The union has not proposed any plans for Y10/Y12 but it would make sense to give this year group as much time as possible to help them prepare for their exams in 2021. We need to ensure the safety of pupils at all times be it at home or in school.

“We need to see the Government’s modelling and assumptions first then see the proposals on return. Once we have seen these we can evaluate the effectiveness of any such proposals. It is unrealistic to see a full return soon but a phased return at some point in the future would seem a pragmatic approach.

MORE: How to home-school children during coronavirus lockdown

“My message to parents is stay safe, do the best you can for your children, do the best you can for their education but do not feel guilty and anything you can do to enhance their education and life skills is very beneficial. Engaging with your children’s learning be it education, sport, social interaction, pursuit of interests or just helping around the home and garden will all help them.”

Secondary schools have said that online learning programmes have been invaluable in keeping students focused on the curriculum they were already studying.

Kesgrave High School headteacher Nigel Burgoyne said planning and preparation was underway for a phased return, likely to begin with Years 10 and 12.

“That’s what we are working on,” he said.

“It’s challenging because classes in schools cannot have 28 kids in a classroom so we are planning all of that through at the moment.

“There will be creative ways to get youngsters back I am sure.

“We have a virtual learning platform called Firefly all the youngsters are used to, and we have set them regular work through that.

“That’s been crucial because it encourages them to keep going.

“We have also used lots of websites for maths and science – there are lots of really good online tutorials.”

MORE: Home-schooling advice for parents with SEND children

Mr Burgoyne said information was also being sent to parents and youngsters due to start at the school this September to help them with the transition, and hoped to be able to bring them in for an induction day before the new school year.

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