The Virtual Teacher Facebook site, which now has more than 3,000 members, was set up by Laura Turvey, humanities specialist and assistant headteacher at Henry Cort Community College.
Mrs Turvey said: ‘To me it’s really important children continue to have an education. If they don’t, then there’s potentially going to be a massive gap in learning for these children when schools eventually reopen. As a teacher, I felt I had a duty of care to ensure this doesn’t happen.’
It was following conversations with some of her own pupils that Mrs Turvey decided to set up a learning support network.
‘When we were informed we had to close it was quite an emotional time for staff – the idea of not being their to support our students,’ said Laura. ‘Many children were concerned about their education and were even asking me if they could continue coming into school.
‘I started to put children’s learning resources on the Portsmouth Communities Support Group for Coronavirus Facebook page and got such a response that I decided to set up the Virtual Teacher page.’
Since the network was established on Saturday, Mrs Turvey has posted teaching videos and resources for children to work through projects on topics such as managing social concerns, the history of football, different cultural festivals and how animals and plants adapt to their environment. One of the key elements for Mrs Turvey was to provide self-guided lessons which allow children to learn while at the same time enable parents having to work from home to continue with their jobs.
Mrs Turvey said: ‘The tasks have step-by-step instructions to encourage independent learning with tasks which last for around three hours.’
Since establishing the network, hundreds of other teachers have also now posted lessons and resources for primary and secondary children covering lessons on mathematical problem solving, physical education workouts, virtual reality museum tours and even magic tricks.
Mrs Turvey has also given her five top tips to support parents with home education.
1 Children need to have some sort of structure maintained. Provide a start and end to the day and have a range of activities planned.
2 Plan breaks into your day where children can get fresh air by playing in the garden or taking part in their permitted one period of physical activity.
3 Children work best at a desk in the morning and so plan any more practical activities for the afternoon.
4 Use the space you have. Get the children out in the garden to learn about the flora and fauna.
5 Find out what it’s like to pick up a red pen. Give children feedback on the work they have done. All children love praise – even Year 10 boys!
To access the Virtual Teacher Facebook page go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/547221729238289/?ref=share