Furious parents have hit out at online lessons for children working from home, with some claiming teachers are only doing the register and reading stories over Zoom.
The outcry comes after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson admitted yesterday children could stay home until after the February half-term.
Mr Williamson stressed he wants ‘schools to be closed for the shortest period of time available’ but warned classrooms could continue to be shut in ‘areas of particular need’ – even after lockdown starts to be eased.
His comments drew ire with appalled parents slamming the standard of teaching their children are receiving online.
Some said they had been forced to teach their children themselves despite also working from home.
Others revealed how their children’s teachers are appearing over Zoom to take classes while teaching assistants are left to teach the children of key workers still attending school.
One parent, who has three children including a daughter aged ten and two sons aged five and three, told MailOnline: ‘The lessons for my five year old are a joke. The teacher just arranges a 15 minute call in the morning, where they just run through the register and then a 15 minute story in the afternoon.
‘My daughter can be more focused due to her age but again the teacher is only directly speaking to them for 15 minutes in the morning then 15 minutes in the afternoon. It feels as though they can just do what they want and do not care how it affects the parents and children.’
Parents have hit out at the quality of online education their children are getting during lockdown. One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said his daughter is only getting a register before being left alone
Another parent, Mariam Jasat, told MailOnline: ” am currently working full time from home and have four boys. One at nursery and 3 home schooled. It’s hell!’
Parents spoke about their struggles to keep their own work going while helping their children
Another parent added: ‘I really want to know how it’s expected that we also teach. Our child is 7 years old. We are sent a word document with a lot of school work and links to a couple of pre-recorded 15 minute “lessons”.
‘That is the sum total of what is being offered to us and our child. It’s then up to us to teach the lessons, answer any questions, engage in talk tasks, motivate and nurture – against work deadlines and back to back calls.
‘No child that age can self-teach, and there is zero interaction with the teacher beyond getting back comments from work submitted the day before. There’s no opportunity to discuss, ask questions, seek support. A subject is rattled off (if we are lucky) in 15 minutes and that’s it. What happens if they don’t understand?? By the time the comments come back the next day, the 15 minute lesson is forgotten.
‘It is ludicrous that anyone would think that this is in anyway acceptable.
‘The stress of it all – on family, working and schooling is devastating. And nothing is being done – and worse than that, there’s no recognition of this situation at all. Working parents have been abandoned.’
Mother Caroline Irving said: ‘I’m struggling to work at home full time while supervising my child in year 8. They have constant questions on the work and demands and it’s very stressful not being able to give 100% to either.
‘We need to campaign to get all schools open after half term. Our children are missing so much. It’s not just about learning. It’s their friends, sport, clubs, school meals and exams.
‘It can be difficult fitting round the video lessons. Lunch is at 12.40pm and I often don’t have time to eat myself as I’m preparing my child’s lunch and I could have a Zoom call at 1pm.’
A furious parent said they had to get a nanny to support their children: ‘We have two young children, one aged 5 and one aged 9. My eldest has additional learning needs after a recent diagnosis of autism and ADHD. I am a HR director for a multinational company employing over 5500 employees and my husband is the director and sole employee of his own business, which requires him to be out on sites.
‘We are not classed as key workers so have no access to school and have had to resort to hiring a part time nanny (at our own cost) to support with the demands coming out in terms of school work.
‘Our youngest can’t read so needs supervision on any tasks set and our eldest requires support to stay focused, so we either let them both fall behind or try to find a solution that allows us to continue with our demanding jobs. It’s a no win situation.’
Another parent said: ‘I want to point out the the primary school my children attend are sending an email every day to us as working parents, with work that they want us to teach our two children aged seven and eight.
Mother Caroline Irving said: ‘I’m struggling to work at home full time while supervising my child in year 8. They have constant questions on the work and demands and it’s very stressful not being able to give 100% to either’
‘The school are classing this as remote learning. In the first lockdown the school did the same thing and never once in a four month period bothered to call our children to see if they where ok.
‘They didn’t ask to see the completed work at any time during this period. When questioned about providing zoom lessons we where told there is safeguarding issues.
‘Move on nine months and lock down three and we have the same situation, emails requesting us as parents to teach the lessons. However this time they are at least asking to provide evidence the work is being completed.
‘Still no zoom lessons and no direct communication from the teachers.’
Mother Mariam Jasat added: ‘I am currently working full time from home and have four boys. One at nursery and 3 home schooled. It’s hell!’
‘The main issue is the boys have four Teams calls a day. They all have their own device thankfully but often get stuck or can’t get into their calls or have technical issues. I often have back to back calls, many where my camera is on and they’ll either run into the room I’m working in asking for help or hover near my desk which isn’t ideal.
‘It’s super challenging working and focussing on my tasks whilst also checking that the boys are getting on with their work and understand it and not pretending to work and actually sat there playing games!
‘When the nurseries were shut, I was on a call, and my 4 year old ran into the room shouting “I need a poo”! Thankfully I was on mute!’
Another parent hit out at schools forcing teaching assistants to teach the children of key workers while teachers work from Zoom.
Gavin Williamson today suggested that schools in hotspot areas could remain closed beyond the February half-term
They said: ‘Parents at my local academy Primary school are being conned. All lessons in school are being taught by classroom assistants (TA’s).
‘A teacher in school who has been providing online lessons (in an empty classroom), then dismisses the class at the end of the day so the parents believe the children have been taught by them instead of the TA.
‘The TA’s are stressed teaching whilst the teachers are mainly able to work from home. In normal times teachers would plan in PPA time or in their own time, but they are able to do this at home during the teaching day. It seems very unfair on both the children and the teaching assistants.
‘The TA’s are also teaching vulnerable children as well as Key Worker children. These children are vulnerable for a reason often not disclosed to the TA’s.
‘Most teachers have a degree and further qualifications often taking 4years but TA’s have not had such in depth training and are now being pushed to their limits by both the demands of the curriculum and some of the children in school. Academies in particular use them as teachers as they are much cheaper than a fully qualified experienced teacher.
‘Teachers who have their own children being educated either at home online or in school are particularly concerned by what is occurring in academies at the moment.’
Kirsty Brotherthon said:’My 7 year old son who loves attending school is struggling with home online learning. We are currently using the ‘SeeSaw’ app and it is proving difficult to use as the app is intermittent.
‘Personally, my son finds it easier using a pen and paper, the app is so hard for a 7 year old to use. I also don’t think the work provided is up to scratch. He has started making excuses up and true everything in his power to get out of home learning.
‘It is also seriously effecting his mental health and behaviour. He is usually such a happy child, but due to him not attending school, this is now not the case.
‘I am deeply concerned and pray for the schools to open soon.’
The Government is hoping a majority of pupils will be able to return to classrooms soon after the first review of the national lockdown on February 15.
MPs on the Education Select Committee yesterday also demanded a guarantee ‘signed in blood’ from Mr Williamson that schools will reopen as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the Education Secretary also declined to guarantee that nurseries will continue to be allowed to open as he would only go so far as to say he had ‘no intention’ to close them.
The Government used a so-called contingency framework before lockdown which allowed ministers to move primary schools in coronavirus hotspots to remote learning.
Mr Williamson said the framework will be used again when lockdown is eased in an apparent admission that some schools could remain shut potentially long into the future.
He told MPs: ‘We already have the sort of set scheme in terms of contingency framework.
‘Obviously as I have said many times before I want schools to be closed for the shortest period of time available.
‘But the contingency framework would be sort of sat there to sort of continue if there [are] areas of particular need where we had to have school settings continued to remain closed, it would be through the contingency framework that they would remain closed.’
Robert Halfon, the Tory chairman of the committee, said he wanted a commitment to reopen schools as soon as possible, and ideally after the February half-term, ‘signed in blood’ by Mr Williamson.
Mr Halfon also pushed the Education Secretary on whether nurseries in England will be allowed to stay open.
Mr Williamson said: ‘Nurseries, we always, Mr Chairman, I am very much like you, I always want to see all education settings open all of the time.
‘I always want to ensure that every child is in a position to be able to go to school and as you will be aware, transmissibility among those who are most youngest is actually the very lowest compared to all of the settings.
‘So when you are in a position to be able to keep part of the education sector in terms of early years, I believe it was the right decision to make because so many families really rely on that nursery provision.
‘But most importantly, those early years are so important…’
Mr Halfon then interrupted and pushed Mr Williamson for a guarantee that nurseries will be allowed to stay open.
Mr Williamson replied: ‘The advice that we have had is that we can keep early years settings open and there is no intention to close them and we have not received any contrary advice to that.’