A new term begins - at home

This article was written by Damian and publshed in the Herald Group of papers on the 16th April:

"Next week, we will have the strange experience of Back to School, while not actually going back to school.  

It has been a massive ask for families doing education at home, many while working from home as well.  Meanwhile, schools have remained at the heart of the community – through the holidays looking after key workers’ children so their parents can look after everyone else. 

It has come home to all of us just how much work goes into a single day of learning.  And how much learning happens every single day. 

Schools went to extraordinary lengths at short notice to make sure a programme of work was ready for children when lockdown began.   

At first many parents worried about filling the days.  Soon the anxiety was fitting it all in. 

Technology has come into its own, but it does have limits.  In the end, there’s no equal-value substitute for human interaction.   

Although almost all families have internet access, in some cases this might only be on Mum’s phone.  In our more rural parts, connection speed isn’t good.  And if you have three or four children they can’t all be on the computer at the same time. 

But there is a lot of good online material available.  You can link to the Department for Education’s picks from my website, damianhinds.com; and take a look at Hampshire Libraries’ Facebook page.   From Monday, the BBC will be running Bitesize Daily, with lessons for all ages from Primary to Post-16.  Parents of the very youngest (0-5) can get ideas for aiding early development at Hungry Little Minds.  

A lot of the focus has been on GCSE and A Level students.  But there are many critical stages in education – today’s Lower Sixth and Year 10s, the end of primary, the second half of Year R, and others.  Each of these times is important and formative. 

In an interview last week a psychologist said parents shouldn't expect to become skilled teachers overnight, you can’t totally replicate school at home, and that is ok.  Parenting is never easy, but parents are doing an amazing job right now.   

We all know what an incredibly valuable job teachers do.  Respect for them now is all the higher.   

We know it’s vital for schools to remain largely closed for now.  But we also recognise the uniqueness of being at school, the importance of being with friends, the special magic of an inspiring teacher.  We look forward to the day that can resume."