Coronavirus: 250K lessons on day one of online academy

Tens of thousands of children have accessed learning through a new government-backed online programme

Tes Reporter

Coronavirus: Tens of thousands of children have accessed lessons provided by a new online learning programme

More than a quarter of a million lessons have been accessed from a new government backed virtual school in its first day of operation. 

The Oak National Academy was created in less than a fortnight and launched today on what would have been the first day back at school after the Easter break.

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Matt Hood, principal of Oak National Academy, said it was "making good quality resources available to any teachers who need it, who can then, in turn, make them available to their pupils."

The launch of the virtual school is part of a government push to make remote education accessible for children while schools are closed to most pupils amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus: Online learning programmes

The Department for Education has also announced that it will provide free laptops or tablets to some deprived Year 10 pupils to help them learn at home.

Mr Hood added: "We want to make sure that every pupil,  regardless of their background, has the best possible education experience at home."

The most popular subjects so far have been English and maths and the most watched lesson has been "Counting up to 10" for Reception pupils.

Mr Hood continued: "One of the things that is really helpful whilst you are social distancing and staying in your home is trying to create a really good quality structure of the day, where that is possible.

"I think during the Easter holiday period structures get more relaxed and now that we are back at term time I think what we are seeing is people wanting to get back to the structure of the day that is right for them.

"We hope this structure we are providing, these lessons – three a day for our primary school pupils and four a day for our secondary school pupils – helps parents, in whatever way works for them, to create a rhythm and structure that makes it manageable for them to do difficult work."

The academy will now look to expand the range of subjects on offer, such as music, drama, and design and technology.

The BBC's new virtual learning programme was also launched on Monday with a host of famous faces leading lessons to help educate the nation's children.

Among those taking part are Manchester City star Sergio Aguero, who will help youngsters learn to count in Spanish, and TV presenter Professor Brian Cox, who is due to teach science topics.

But Tory MP Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, believes that online lessons – including the BBC programme and Oak National Academy scheme – should be broadcast on television so more pupils from disadvantaged homes can access the resources.

He told PA: "Given the lack of access to online learning, children may not have computers or enough data on their phones but they do have televisions.

"BBC could broadcast [online learning resources] for two or three hours a day so that most children would then have access to that learning via the red button on the remote control."



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