Trainee teachers are helping to educate and supervise the children of staff at the University of Sunderland, as the numbers nationally required to miss school and self-isolate at home rises.
PGCE candidates will provide remote teaching for those children of staff required to self-isolate. The scheme was launched after the university’s faculty of education volunteered to assist the growing number unable to balance their careers with childcare.
Seventy-five trainees have so far signed up to the scheme.
Latest Department for Education statistics, for Thursday 1st to Thursday 8th October, show that 89.8% of state-funded pupils are presently attending school. Nine in ten (90.8%) of state schools are fully open, with a further nine per cent operating at below full capacity.
This project will not only support university staff with homeschooling for primary and secondary children during periods of school closures and instances of self-isolating; it will also provide our trainees with opportunities to enhance their CVs and support future employability
– Prof Lynne McKenna, University of Sunderland
Debs Patten, professor of anatomy in the School of Medicine, is credited for originating the scheme. “When my 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,” she said.
“School supplied work for Adam and my husband and I took turns to help him. He missed the presence of a knowledgeable and supportive teacher who knows the curriculum and he was not always able to work independently on some of the planned activities.
“As we juggled work around a home school day, I wondered if my colleagues in education had considered bringing the teacher-presence into the home for parents homeschooling and if our PGCE students could help out as part of their learning experiences too.”
The needs of parents and the availability of trainees in subject-specific areas would determine the amount of supervision provided, the university said.
Prof Lynne McKenna, dean of the faculty of education and society, planned the scheme with the university’s initial teacher training (ITT) team. “This project will not only support university staff with homeschooling for primary and secondary children during periods of school closures and instances of self-isolating; it will also provide our trainees with opportunities to enhance their CVs and support future employability, provide evidence against the teachers’ standards, and will support their upcoming assessments,” she said.
Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) manager Justine Gillespie said the scheme was a “fantastic example of how staff networks can influence and how a faculty team can bring it to life and bring positive change to inclusion”.
Research by King’s College London and Ipsos Mori suggested that women shouldered a disproportionate amount of childcare during lockdown.