Trainee teachers help children of self-isolating university staff

Sunderland scheme provides PGCE students with experience while supporting employees juggling work and homeschooling

October 19, 2020
Online lesson
Source: iStock

Trainee teachers at an English university are set to help provide online schooling for children of staff who have to self-isolate.

The unique scheme at the University of Sunderland aims to provide valuable experience for trainees pursuing a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) while also supporting staff who have to juggle work and homeschooling.

Seventy-five PGCE students have already signed up to support the scheme, serving families in a region experiencing high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

The initial idea came from Debs Patten, a professor of anatomy in Sunderland’s School of Medicine, whose son Adam was asked to self-isolate just a few days after restarting school in September.

“As parents, we found ourselves juggling homeschooling, parenting and full-time work responsibilities again,” Professor Patten said.

“School supplied work for Adam, and my husband and I took turns to help him. He clearly missed the presence of a knowledgeable and supportive teacher who knows the curriculum. Also, he was not always able to work independently on some of the planned activities.

“As we juggled work around a homeschool day, I wondered if my colleagues in education had ideas for bringing the teacher presence into the home for parents homeschooling, and if our own PGCE students could help out as part of their learning experiences, too.”

The lessons for homeschooling pupils will cover a range of year groups and key curriculum areas, which pupils will be able to sign into via Microsoft Teams. The sessions will start after the half-term break.

Mikeala Morgans, Sunderland’s initial teacher training team leader, said the scheme was “an excellent opportunity for our fabulous trainees to develop their teaching abilities while delivering sessions online”.

“We are living in a world where teaching is taking place using a hybrid model, and it will be excellent experience for our trainees to look further into online provision,” she said.

Lynne McKenna, dean of the Faculty of Education and Society, said the programme would “support university staff with homeschooling for primary and secondary children during periods of school closures and instances of self-isolating”.

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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