Schools will close after today (Friday March 20) for all children, bar those of key workers or who are classed as vulnerable, leaving families across the UK to tackle home schooling during the country’s coronavirus battle.

Aspirations Academies Trust schools in Banbury have been preparing for sometime for this outcome and have digital classrooms ready to roll out from Monday to try and minimise disruption to learning for students.

Aspirations Academies Trust has three schools in Banbury – Harriers Academy and Dashwood Academy which are primaries and Wykham Park which is a secondary school and has Futures Institute as part of its campus.

At Wykham Park Academy and Futures Institute, which is part of the academy, Google classroom is in place for children to use remotely to ensure students continue to learn at the same pace and do not fall behind.

In addition to the digital facilities, traditional hard copy learning packages are also available to students.

Janet Hetherington, vice principal of Wykham Park Academy, she told the Banbury Guardian: ‘’We live in a digital world. Google classroom ensures children learn in the same way at the same time. Teachers get notifications if things are incomplete and can mark it remotely. Students are also able to interact with their teachers and also receive feedback.

‘’Teachers will follow the normal timetable and upload a lesson to the classroom for the students to access and there will also be work for the student to complete and then submit back to their teacher. Students will also be able to ask questions of their teacher clarifying what needs to be done or ask for help.

‘’All students will also go home with paper, their Google classroom codes, and paper based booklets.’’

Here Ms Hetherington also provides a guide for parents on how to best home school their children and make sure they have fun at the same time.

How to stop them falling behind?

– Make sure students follow their school time table in ks4 and ks5 and ensure that they access their Google Classroom at the right time to complete the work uploaded.

For those students in year seven to nine work with your child to produce a timetable based on hour-long lessons to help them complete their English, maths, science and humanities lessons. If they want flexibility in the working day allow them to take responsibility, but ensure that at the end of the day all the lessons for that day have been completed.

– If students don’t understand the work or have questions Google classroom has the facility to make a comment to the teacher or to send a message to ask for help or seek clarification.

– Students can email teachers if they have questions on the paper based resources too.

– Links or signposts to external online free resources are available and are highlighted on the useful links page of the academy website, but on the whole students will be directed to resources to use on their lessons prepared for them by their teacher. If you feel you would like additional work set or additional resources please email the subjects head of department.

Routine is important

– Setting a timetable for each day is important for routines and continuity.

– Build breaks and map in social time to enable concentration during the lesson time and not continuous screen time.

– Work should be submitted back to a teacher on time, and feedback is important to continue their learning journey so it’s important that your child submits the work back to their teacher.

– Always remember to get them to drink lots of water to keep hydrated and eat healthily.

When and how to ask for help?

– Learning – when students have used resources and guidance, first port of call is to contact and ask your teacher through Google classroom. Then another step could be to ask your family and friends online for advice.

– Everything else – If you or they are worried about anything else you can contact the welfare staff at the academy.

What to do if Netflix or Instagram appear more attractive and your child is getting bored?

– A timetable gives routine but should be structured around 30 minute blocks of activity. Long blocks of time will lead to boredom and frustration.

– A rewards system needs to be built in to motivate. This could be doing something different online with friends time, or a negotiated time slot for social gaming and interaction.

– Build in physical exercise – it helps mental health.

– Build in time to do things together (a meal, a game etc)

– Teenagers need their peer groups. It’s important to them and necessary – build in access to friends online.

– Team up with families of friendship groups so students can help each other online with learning.

– Team rewards could be built into a programme so it encourages them to help each other.

Keeping your child safe online

– Educate yourself – useful support can be found on safety– Use your parent control features.

– Talk with your child about what they are learning, what resources using to help them, who socialising with on line.

– Contact the academy if you have any queries or concerns.