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Ideas for alternative education system in corona times

(32 Posts)
swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 11:42:30

So, I started to consider what schools would look like if a) this was indeed It for the next year or two and b) we determined that yes, kids do spread virus. This is a "what if we scrap everything and start again" scheme. It's also based on having money to throw at it which I appreciate is unlikely to happen.

We've been using Outschool while schools have been out (honestly it's been amazing for us, but expensive). It's small (usually 4-8 kids) zoom classes, you pick the class and the time and the teacher designs the class. Kiddo has done everything from a multi-week Life Science course based around pokemon to a one-off class in correct use of the apostrophe and the design of it means we've been able to wiggle it around us. Mum has to work long days Tuesdays? Guess you have 6 classes then. But Mum has Mondays off and so do you. Or Mum needs you occupied while she makes dinner so let's find a class at around 5PM.

This model could actually work on a wider country basis. The only problem I can see is that balancing the curriculum is a pain in the neck and while I know my kid well enough to identify issues he might need a one off class about not everyone would. So, add a counsellor into the model - a bit like a form tutor . Their first job is to look over teacher reports from classes and see when they're reporting "kid clearly has no clue here, switch to a class really going over the basics" or alternatively "kid is way ahead for this class, switch up a few levels". Their second job is to ensure the curriculum is balanced - make sure kid doesn't race ahead in history but forget to learn fractions. And their third job is to collect behavioural reports. If a child is consistently not showing up to lessons, if they are constantly misbehaving and distracting others or alternatively if there's stuff going on in the background which is causing the individual teachers cause for concern then they can collate this.

The good part of this system is the things you can do given economies of scale. A teacher given a kid who is struggling with a subject still has to move on after time but this would give the ability for a properly personalised education, trying different things and teachers until something stuck. You could to some extent throw away the usual "kids must learn with their age" motif - a kid could do english with kids 2 years younger and maths with kids 2 years older if that was where their abilities lay. And if you started with a basic timetable but parents/children had the ability to rejiggle this to a certain extent that opens the door to all kinds of things - yes, you can go on holiday in a random week if you ensure there are extra lessons in other weeks to make up for it. Kid is horrible in the morning? Schedule lessons later in the day.

It takes a lot of manpower buuuut if you're talking individual classes rather than a full work day, you've actually got people in this country we could use for that. There's a whole lot of teachers who quit because the school day was incompatible with work:life balance who might be tempted back if they were asked to just sign up for however many hours they could do per week at times convenient to them. And for some stuff you could use tutors rather than registered teachers. This also helps actually employ people in our coming massive employment crisis.

THIS IS NOT GOING TO SUIT ALL CHILDREN.

The younger the child, the less likely it is to suit - my wiggle-bottomed 4 year old has tried a few zoom lessons but with a lot less success than with the 6 year old. And some kids are going to have SEN issues or unstable home environments or other reasons they can't do this. And this does nothing at all to tackle the massive childcare issue. But it does provide an alternative - an alternative which actually adds value and isn't just "have a rather worse online education than you would have in a building" - for SOME children. And the more children you can get out of the actual buildings the less likely the kids are left inside to be massive disease vectors.

It's pie in the sky "please give the education system money" thinking I know, but I still think it could work it we stopped singing EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE very loudly and started looking at alternative solutions. Maybe as a private school? Anyone want to throw money at me for a free school? :D

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Illusionordelusion Sun 02-Aug-20 11:49:25

Zoom lessons wouldn’t engage my children. They are more engaged when they have the structure of a school day. Play times, running off steam, seeing friends etc!

In my opinion you just can’t recreate that learning environment at home. It’s massively inferior, although I’m sure many will disagree on mumsnet.

It’s not ideal for disadvantaged families who do not have adequate space for multiple children to be learning on laptops. That requires one room each. It requires a stable, and quiet environment.

Online solutions are okay in times like these. Just okay though.

swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 11:54:25

Yeah as I said it's not going to suit all kids. There are going to be kids who desperately need to be at school - and that's okay. The ideal is not to cram every kid back in just to help those kids. The ideal is to make sure every kid has an education that suits them. It's far better to have ten kids in a class in a school who desperately need to be in a school environment than it is to cram thirty kids into a class solely because you want a one-sized-fits-all solution.

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LegoMaus Sun 02-Aug-20 11:54:56

Schools were already moving towards classes with no qualified teacher. My DM is a teacher and for the past few years she had an unqualified teacher in the room next door (who got paid a third of DM’s salary, term time only). DM had to set work for both classes and the unqualified teacher just supervised and implemented the work that was set. I can see this becoming more widespread because we need smaller classes but can’t afford to pay more teachers.

elephantfeels Sun 02-Aug-20 12:04:00

I am speaking from what a local college is doing however they are doing 'blended' learning of zoom lessons and in 1 or 2 days a week.
They have partnered up with a local computer place who are offering financed laptops for £10pm or for those truly venerable the college has a supply of laptops to lend and dongle internet connection type things.
Those who have additional needs are being invited in for most the week to keep some structure for their education

swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 12:11:37

The other problem with it that I can see - and again this isn't going to be fixed without government intervention - is that the internet backbone in the country is already struggling as I suspect anyone who WFH knows already. If we're going to add a lot more kids who all need live zoom sessions we need bigger pipes!

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swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 12:23:48

I think we also need to start maybe think about separating the three purposes of school; childcare, socialisation and education. Yes, it's easier if those three can happen together but at present we're saying that if you can't have the education you can't have the childcare and socialisation either which is just ridiculous.

So, let's quit with the "SCHOOLS SHOULD ALL OPEN FOR THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS FOR EVERY CHILD (but if your school doesn't for your child, you can't so much have a playdate with another school friend, that's dangerous".

My kids are at summer sports day camp next week. Lots of running around, small groups, lots of socialisation, childcare, no education whatsoever. If we can't have school I'd far rather keep having something like this as an offering (one week in three at camp, not run by qualified teachers but all adults are security checked, same group every day) than absolutely nothing.

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frozendaisy Sun 02-Aug-20 12:24:00

This isn't going to be forever, one school year I reckon then I think, well hope more, a vaccine/ treatment will be found.

I can't understand why it hasn't been suggested, and I am sure it has behind closed doors, that the school day is extended 8-1 & 1-5, split schools in half and attend everyday for 4 hours, lunch at home, more social distancing which would limit the disruption of isolating if needed in your bubble. I know work would be hard to accommodate, so allow household bubbles for childcare if need be.

This way every child would get 4 hours education everyday. Otherwise it is going to be pot luck that your school has few/if any cases of Covid-19 hence no self-isolating, or if you are unlucky and your school bubble is out every other week.

Pay teachers overtime.

And perhaps have some additional classes for GCSE/A Level years. Otherwise I can see some GCSE students sitting down to take exams having had considerably fewer days in school than others which also seems deeply unfair.

elephantfeels Sun 02-Aug-20 12:25:51

To be honest unless work places allow those who CAN work from home to do so on a full time basis and work flexibly then none of these will work.

swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 12:30:27

@elephantfeels I should probably state that I am a single parent who works from home and has a very understanding workplace. And I've still had more than a few "I think I'd just like to lie on the floor and cry for a while today, please" days since March.

Unfortunately it's starting to look like the solution to this is going to be "well, the economy is crashing so hard most kids will have at least one unemployed parent in any case".

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LilMissRe Sun 02-Aug-20 12:34:26

I'd prefer to live-stream all my lessons from September. I'm also pre-recording my lessons, or content anyway and providing access to students should be unable to watch the lesson live.

My school wants staff on site but half classes. Not sure how that will work for me yet.

MyView2 Sun 02-Aug-20 12:38:15

Having seen how little my children actually seem to learn in a school day (if going by the work sent home whilst schools were closed is an indication) I am more inclined now to look into other schooling options and have been looking into online schooling options for longer term.

Op, I wasn’t aware of Out School, are they US based? I can only see fees in dollars, is there a UK operation?

MarshaBradyo Sun 02-Aug-20 12:39:06

Zoom lessons wouldn’t engage my children. They are more engaged when they have the structure of a school day. Play times, running off steam, seeing friends etc!

In my opinion you just can’t recreate that learning environment at home. It’s massively inferior, although I’m sure many will disagree on mumsnet.

Not at all I concur entirely.

If we are talking about online then it has to be just that. Which means teachers cannot be with other bubbles or KW groups during that time. They have to be available to teach.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Sun 02-Aug-20 12:43:03

My issue, living rurally (1 mile from the edge of town, so it's really rural!) Is internet speed. We can stream one thing at a time. Sometimes we can barely open a webpage. So I can't have two children doing video lessons, either pre recorded or live, at once. Mobile signal can depend on where we stand in the house/garden...
There is also the issue of one device per child. Their tablets are Kindle Fires, ok for a bit of web searching, not so useful for full on school work. Luckily I had a laptop, and DH had a notebook. And work provided him with a laptop, so if he's home, they aren't sharing with him.

Overall, the most successful format for my DDs was TV... So Bitesize Daily, and the various talks etc on YouTube (like Children's Astronomy from Cambridge I think it was).

swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 12:48:56

MyView2

Having seen how little my children actually seem to learn in a school day (if going by the work sent home whilst schools were closed is an indication) I am more inclined now to look into other schooling options and have been looking into online schooling options for longer term.

Op, I wasn’t aware of Out School, are they US based? I can only see fees in dollars, is there a UK operation?

They are US based but honestly they've been a god-send. I check through lessons to make sure there's nothing too weirdly American (currency lessons are obviously out, very little in the way of history, sent teacher a message before the letter-writing lesson so she didn't expect him to use the US address format). Frankly even if it just kept him quiet for 30-60 minutes at a time so I can work that would be enough but he's also actually been LEARNING THINGS which is amazing and oh thank god someone is teaching my child.

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museumum Sun 02-Aug-20 12:51:28

My 6/7 year old can read pretty well and has a thirst for knowledge. But he’s an only child and my dh and I work. He needs social experience and emotional intelligence development (spending three months with only his parents did not help him learn to get on with people who don’t love him unconditionally)
He completely came alive again after two days of forest school this month. Small groups. Outdoors. Socially distant. That’s what I would choose for the primary school age group.

swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 12:51:41

MarshaBradyo

*Zoom lessons wouldn’t engage my children. They are more engaged when they have the structure of a school day. Play times, running off steam, seeing friends etc!*

In my opinion you just can’t recreate that learning environment at home. It’s massively inferior, although I’m sure many will disagree on mumsnet.

Not at all I concur entirely.

If we are talking about online then it has to be just that. Which means teachers cannot be with other bubbles or KW groups during that time. They have to be available to teach.

That's why I'd look at bringing in ex-teachers part time. I know multiple ex-teachers with young families who gave up teaching because of the 60 hour week expected. They wouldn't be available to do that again - but if you offered a part-time option teaching specific online small group lessons they might.

We did an appeal at the start of this to bring back retired nurses. Why can't we do the same for teachers?

OP’s posts: |
elliejjtiny Sun 02-Aug-20 12:58:21

Zoom wouldn't work for my dc. I would have to be there supervising or it wouldn't work and I can't do that with 5 dc at once. More importantly our internet connection wouldn't cope.

swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 13:12:18

elliejjtiny

Zoom wouldn't work for my dc. I would have to be there supervising or it wouldn't work and I can't do that with 5 dc at once. More importantly our internet connection wouldn't cope.

Could I ask how old your kids are? Asking because I can certainly see supervision of younger kids being an issue but I'm surprised if you see it being an issue with older ones.

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sirfredfredgeorge Sun 02-Aug-20 13:40:58

is that the internet backbone in the country is already struggling as I suspect anyone who WFH knows already

There is no evidence that the internet backbone has remotely struggled.

Beawillalwaysbetopdog Sun 02-Aug-20 14:00:04

frozendaisy

This isn't going to be forever, one school year I reckon then I think, well hope more, a vaccine/ treatment will be found.

I can't understand why it hasn't been suggested, and I am sure it has behind closed doors, that the school day is extended 8-1 & 1-5, split schools in half and attend everyday for 4 hours, lunch at home, more social distancing which would limit the disruption of isolating if needed in your bubble. I know work would be hard to accommodate, so allow household bubbles for childcare if need be.

This way every child would get 4 hours education everyday. Otherwise it is going to be pot luck that your school has few/if any cases of Covid-19 hence no self-isolating, or if you are unlucky and your school bubble is out every other week.

Pay teachers overtime.

And perhaps have some additional classes for GCSE/A Level years. Otherwise I can see some GCSE students sitting down to take exams having had considerably fewer days in school than others which also seems deeply unfair.

It's not a terrible idea in principle but 8 hours contact time a day, even at half classes is not sustainable. Even if overtime was paid for the extra 3 hours.

I normally do 50-55 hours a week. I can't do 65-70 hours a week. I did as an NQT and it's just not sustainable.

Assuming 60 minute lessons normally. Cut them to 30 minutes. Normal timetable but half the kids in the morning and half in the afternoon. Teacher prep and marking, plus contact time would be the same. Might not work for every subject, but for mine I could easily cover the key points they need and the practice they normally do in lesson could be done at home. Kids that have tech could do it that way, but kids without could be given printouts / booklets of the practice questions.

Alongside extra money for cleaning and extra money for supply staff/cover supervisors this might be enough to keep schools open.

swg1 Sun 02-Aug-20 14:17:37

sirfredfredgeorge

*is that the internet backbone in the country is already struggling as I suspect anyone who WFH knows already*

There is no evidence that the internet backbone has remotely struggled.

My office IT department has been routinely explaining that the reason our network is on its knees is that the ISPs are deprioritising VPNs as opposed to other traffic. I know from friends WFH in different organisations (not tiny dodgy companies, large government organisations) that they are getting the same explanation. And if you look at down detector on any given work day you'll find red blotches for BT across the country.

I've worked from home for years. It's never even been close to this bad.

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sirfredfredgeorge Sun 02-Aug-20 14:45:14

My office IT department has been routinely explaining that the reason our network is on its knees is that the ISPs are deprioritising VPNs as opposed to other traffic.

It's a great excuse, but it's not true, home ISPs are still shifting less traffic in the daytime than their evening "streaming" peaks even before COVID. Most of the major ISPs do no traffic management, there's a code of conduct which says they tell you what they do, here's BT's www.bt.com/help/broadband/bt-s-approach-to-broadband-traffic-management but most of the major ones are similar.

"down detector" says nothing about how the internet backbone is coping, just how various ISPs are failing local connections, and I've not heard of any particular increase of those - despite engineers having different problems with access etc.

But it's all really off topic for this thread, but actual overall internet capacity is unlikely to be at all relevant to remote learning of kids, the fact it works for so few would likely limit it anyway.

BrieAndChilli Sun 02-Aug-20 15:31:20

My kids had work assigned on teams/google classroom. They submitted it and it was marked and sent back with comments etc

Youngest had weekly zoom call and older 2 had occasional teams live lessons with teachers

I also paid (19 a month total for 3 kids) for century tech - little lessons either videos of slide shows in English, maths and science followed by quizzes. All sorts of lessons on there and it suggests what they should do next based on thier performance. Much more targeted lessons eg full stops, nouns etc as well as reasoning and comprehension. Also shows dashboard with thier scores, strengths and weaknesses which would help parents who don’t have much of a clue what thier child needs to work on.

We then also did practical stuff - science experiments, cooking, gardening, diy etc

What is missing from homeschooling is drama, team sports, peer collaboration, etc which is difficult to recreate at home even with siblings.

Bol87 Sun 02-Aug-20 16:57:36

Home learning is fine but who is doing it? When both parents work? Probably mum. And how does mums employer deal with that? I had friends who nearly had breakdowns trying to home educate & work full time. Their days started at 5am to get some work done before 9am. Then they tried to juggle work & school when most of their clients needed them to work a regular 9-5 day. Then they’d finish, cook tea, kids to bed & work from 8pm-midnight ..

It is not realistic. Or do women just give up their careers? Families struggle to keep up with mortgage payments cost parents had to give up their job or go part time etc etc. The implications are enormous.

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