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Return to school: Who first, why and how to support teenagers still at home?

Written By: Berry Billingsley
2 min read

I am very glad to see the gradual erosion of the phrase ‘home-schooling’ in favour of other terms like ‘learning at home’ and ‘home-learning’.

‘Home-schooling’ is a term I associate with parents taking their children out of the school education system so that they can design and provide their children’s education at home. We are not in that situation. Our children are still enrolled in their schools and many parents – and their children – are relying on schools to design a curriculum and keep children engaged in learning.

Now we have the prospect of some more children returning to school – but it won’t be business as usual. It might be that schools open to different age groups at different times of the day or it might mean beginning with younger children – and holding off for a while longer before opening schools to older students. In other words, we can expect both the home and the school to continue to play key roles for some time to come but what it looks like and which children are in school and when is about to change.

As so often the decision about what this next phase looks like will be made on the basis of balancing three key types of question. One is a question for biological science (in this case, which age groups are more likely to spread disease). Another is a question for behavioural science (how will people respond in practice once a new rule comes in) and thirdly, the question of societal good (which groups are most deserving or most likely to benefit or most disadvantaged currently).

In this situation – there is a fourth factor to consider. That’s the question of whether schools should prioritise some activities over others. Take for example, science practical work especially for older students. Surely there are few families who have the means, safeguarding and know-how at home to develop young people’s scientific skills and knowledge in the way that happens in school?

Finally to try to make lives better, we are building a free website where teenagers can learn some teaching skills. See – www.newgenerationteachers.com.

It is designed to encourage a new generation to build an interest and skills in teaching and to recognise the efforts of students who find themselves teaching a younger child at home. The first session sets the teenager the challenge of designing a scientific enquiry into floating and sinking for a primary school child at home – with a bare minimum of materials. Be great if it gives some of our GCSE students a new challenge and a different way and reason to appreciate the value of the school curriculum. This group are also at risk of being under-served by schools and in some cases, parents are reporting, have fallen into an education void.

We will add more sessions and curriculum areas to the site if it’s popular. Let me know what you think. Our email address at Canterbury Christ Church is LASAR@canterbury.ac.uk – and the website is: www.newgenerationteachers.com.

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