Teacher phone calls home have been “highly appreciated" during lockdown, a survey of thousands of families has revealed
The survey of 3,600 parents and 1,300 children, found that families viewed contact and communication with their school as an important way to support pupil and family wellbeing.
And secondary school pupils said they were more likely to say they had done a lot of schoolwork at home if they were regularly keeping in touch with their teachers, according to the survey by the Child Poverty Action Group charity (CPAG).
Coronavirus: Free laptops for disadvantaged pupils
"It's not necessarily the resources, it's been the phone calls and offer of any support that I have found the most helpful," one father told researchers.
A mother said: "It would be nice if the teacher could check in with us, a phone call from the teacher would really boost my daughter. Also, I would benefit from a ten-minute chat to discuss my worries about home learning."
The survey, in partnership with the Children North East charity, took place last month in England, Scotland and Wales, and has been published in a report today that states: “Children and young people valued being able to communicate with their teachers online, but phone calls were also highly appreciated.”
It adds: “Parents commended the efforts school staff had made to keep in touch by phone and other methods, with some schools regularly calling pupils and parents to see how they were coping. Families appreciated this method as it allowed them to speak to staff about concerns, and it made the school feel more approachable. Primary pupils, in particular, told us that personal contact from teachers had really helped their experience of lockdown and that they liked hearing from the school.”
Other teacher support that has worked well during lockdown also includes regular setting of tasks and regular marking and feedback on tasks completed, according to the survey.
However the main challenges around home learning were lack of computer equipment, lack of appropriate space to study and worries about not ‘keeping up’ affecting wellbeing. They also included parents not having the time or confidence to support children with learning, and distraction and noise from parents working and siblings.
When parents were asked what had really helped their children during lockdown, the most common answer was “personal communication from schools and teachers” and a quarter said this had been the most important factor in helping their children to feel part of the school community.
A CPAG spokesperson said: “We also found that where pupils were regularly able to keep in touch with teachers they were more likely to report being engaged in school work - 85 per cent of pupils who reported doing ‘a lot of school work’ were in touch with their teachers at least once a week.”
The research also found:
- Families worried about money were more likely to say their children's education at home was difficult
- Forty per cent of low-income families report they were missing at least one essential resource to support their children's learning
- One-third of the families who are most worried about money have had to buy a laptop, tablet or other device.
A government spokesperson said: "We are improving the mental health support for staff and pupils through videos, webinars and teaching materials created by experts, and a new programme to boost boosting teachers' wellbeing.
“We are working with partners to develop a long-term package of support for children to catch up on lost learning as a result of coronavirus, building upon the £100 million of support already made available to help children learn from home.”