Responding to the announcement that the government will be providing free devices to help disadvantaged young people, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said:
“It is essential that the benefits of any online learning offers are felt by all pupils and increasing access to the necessary technology is a vital part of this.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome step in the right direction towards making sure that all children, irrespective of circumstance, can access online learning resources now and in the longer term.
“Every phase of education is important, and we hope to see this scheme expanded so that the least advantaged children across all ages and stages have the technology they need to help them succeed.
“Of course, a project of this scale will require careful planning and there are significant logistical challenges to be overcome, not least the speed at which these devices can be sourced and delivered. If successful, the scheme could make a real difference to many disadvantaged young people in the coming months.”
Commenting on the launch of Oak Academy, Mr Whiteman said:
“The principle of schools and teachers working together is a sound one, and we have seen plenty of examples of this happening already in the response to coronavirus.
“Schools have reacted impressively to the coronavirus outbreak. At a lightning pace, under extreme pressure they have formed local partnerships to help one another and share ideas and solutions. Whilst support and guidance from elsewhere can be helpful, it is for each individual school to determine how best to serve its community of pupils and families.
“Online learning is certainly a part of the mix, and the Oak Academy resources can be considered alongside the offers from BBC Bitesize and the other platforms and providers available. Schools will adopt what they need and what they believe to be suitable and combine it with their own resources to provide the right offer for their pupils.
“It’s clear that these are interim solutions. These resources have a shelf-life that should not go beyond the coronavirus lockdown in their current form. They cannot replace human interaction or the power of a teacher in front of a class of pupils, and we should not expect them to do so.
“Any online learning being offered should be accompanied by a reassurance that expectations will be limited to what each family is able to cope with so that they do not feel overwhelmed.”
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