Harrogate schools say supporting families is main priority as learning moves online

As schools across the district have closed their doors except to vulnerable children and those of ‘key workers’, they have reassured parents that education standards will not slip and they are doing all they can to support families through this difficult time.

With schools now offering education facilities online and many teachers working from home, children are still able to access their work and classroom activities.

Harrogate Grammar School headteacher, Neil Renton, says the sytem has been working well since the school closed for the majority of students on Friday.

Chris Parkhouse, headteacher at Grove Road Community Primary School, has started doing videos on Youtube to help children learn from home.

He told the Harrogate Advertiser: “We have stayed open for vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers, working with a smaller number of staff in the building.

“The rest are working from home, planning, setting up online work and still conducting meetings - just remotely.”

He says the school saw a drop in the number of children in school between Monday and Tuesday after Boris Johnson’s tougher restrictions came into force.

And as the country faces lockdown for at least three weeks, Mr Renton said headteachers across town have been in discussion about the possibility of maybe providing a centralised option for the pupils who still have to attend.

He added: “We are working together to ensure there is a consolidated provision and some schools remain open wherever possible.”

He said the school’s main priority is checking in with pupils working from home and offering support to families. It is sending out regular bulletins and advice throughout the week, as well as making the most of technology to keep in touch with students.

And Brackenfield School headteacher, Darren Coxon, said the new provisions were working “extremely well” given the circumstances.

He said: “There is always some nervousness around having to do something new, but teachers are thinking outside the box, children are motivated and parents really appreciate it. This has to be a massive community effort.”

As well as online classes and daily group video calls, Brackenfield has also launched online PE lessons, so children can continue to exercise and have fun with their peers despite having to work from home.

And Grove Road Community Primary School is also making the most of technology to keep students motivated and engaged.

Headteacher Chris Parkhouse has launched a ‘rap a book’ challenge on Youtube, encouraging pupils and their families to pick a book and ‘pick a beat’ to rap along to.

The school is also using the video platform to upload some of its online lessons so that pupils can keep up to date.