Homeschooling during the Coronavirus pandemic

By Jessica Rowley

Since classroom doors shut on 20 March, the shape of the education system for many youngsters has never been more different.

However it is not just students that are feeling the strain from the changing face of the schooling system.

A survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics has found that confidence levels of adults who are home-schooling their children have fallen to below half – 45 per cent – and only a third of families – 31 per cent – feel they had access to the resources they needed to home-school their children well.

Hospitality worker Jade Rowley, 27, of Kingswinford has been home-schooling her son since lockdown began.

“As a household we were completely unprepared. We never had a laptop or a printer in the house as we have never needed one before, we usually just use our phones or the family iPad. We’re really fortunate that my fiancé’s parents were willing to donate us their printer and their laptop so we could print resources,” said Jade.

A total of 38 per cent of adults found that they had limited access to equipment required for home- schooling.

“My partner is a key worker however I have been furloughed so we decided I would take on the home- schooling responsibility not only for convenience but for their safety,” added Jade.

“It’s difficult but we felt that with everything going on it would be the safest and the easiest option.”

This coincides with 30 per cent of key workers who took part in ONS study citing their main reasons for not sending their child to school as the availability of alternative care and 27 per cent and being worried about their children’s health and wellbeing.

Jodie Buckley, 27, from Lower Gornal is also reliant on alternative health care for her children. Her job as a nurse has forced her to isolate away from her children, aged five and seven, since lockdown began.

“I couldn’t have utilised the schools being open as usual as I’d have struggled to fetch and collect them in between my 12-hour day or night shifts.” she said.

“I co-parent and have to rely on the children’s father to have them whilst I go to work, he lives with his parents who are in their late 60s and more at risk. If we’d have been mixing, I’d have been putting the whole household, who were all isolating and off work, at risk. Ultimately, the safety of everyone was paramount so the decision was made for them to stay there.

“It’s extremely challenging. When they left I felt like my heart had been ripped out but now we’re in a routine. We FaceTime daily so we can talk about what they’ve been up too and what school work they are attempting.”

While one in four adults – 25 per cent – reported that home-schooling has placed a strain on relationships within the household, 66 per cent of adults said that their children were continuing to learn.

Fewer adults also thought the well-being of their child or children was being negatively affected, down to 32 per cent from a previous 42 per cent.

Seven-year-old Lewis Dunn who attends Blanford Mere Primary School in Kingswinford said:

“I do like being at home but I am bit sad because I want to see my friends and my teachers. I have been doing lots of homework, spellings and reading but I get easily distracted by my little brother and my dog who always wants a fuss.

“I think I’ll forget some answers and when I go to Year 3, it might be hard.”

In a briefing on 24th May, Boris Johnson announced there will be a phased reopening of schools.

The prime minister confirmed that the government intended to reopen the schools for early years pupils, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from 1st June.