Published by: TES

Published on: 25th March 2020

Schools have gone ‘above and beyond’ to help pupils during the coronavirus crisis, say parents and colleagues.

It’s been a hugely challenging week for school staff on the front line, with many putting their own health at risk to care for children of key workers battling the coronavirus crisis.

But their hard work has not gone unnoticed, even if things have felt overwhelming.

Many parents and colleagues have got in touch with Tes to say thank you to the teachers, school leaders and support staff doing their bit to fight the virus.

We have compiled some of their heart-warming stories of hope and generosity below.

The ‘incredible’ school with a virtual choir

The staff at Sandringham School in St Albans have been “amazing”, according to parent Beccy Pile.

Headteacher Alan Gray sends out a daily update for parents, and the school has even set up a “virtual choir”.

Ms Pile said: “My sons’ school, Sandringham School, has been incredible. We took our two boys [in Years 10 and 12] out a few days early as I have severe asthma and we were concerned.

“Since then, my boys have followed the online timetable, getting support when they need it.

“I unfortunately now have the Covid-19 symptoms so cannot support them really, but I have not worried at all. They are happily getting on with it, they know their teachers are there to help.

“I am only discovering now that the teachers at school have probably been putting up with random bouts of singing from my Year 10 son, if the last few days are anything to go by!”

The teacher trainees going the extra mile

The students at the school-based Red Kite Teacher Training provider have “really stepped up” during the crisis, according to course leaders.

A spokesperson said: “Our trainees have had their school placements suspended but a large number of them have volunteered and are still in schools, looking after the kids that are still in and covering for staff that are in isolation.

“Other trainees are working from home – teaching lessons by video and setting remote work. They’ve really stepped up and been a massive asset to a lot of schools in Yorkshire.”

The thoughtful teachers running online classes for primary children

Assistant headteacher Andy Chown has created a series of lessons for primary school children to follow online.

Mr Chown, who works at St Saviour’s RC Primary School in Lewisham, said: “I just wanted something for my class to do and hoped it would help parents.

“It’s been shared across the Lewisham schools and I was just hoping it might be good to let others know that they can continue with what is on the curriculum from a teacher who knows it well.”

Meanwhile, a former primary teacher has rekindled his love for the job by streaming daily science lessons live on YouTube.

He said: “I’m a former teacher who taught (via YouTube) for the first time in five years. I loved it! I’m doing new, daily live lessons for primary children every morning to help parents while we’re all at home.

“It was heartwarming to hear from parents and children that they found it easy to access and that they really enjoyed our first session yesterday. I’m so glad I can do something to help, even in this small way.”

The ‘wonderful’ IT teacher who asked pupils to help raise spirits

A teacher from York set a very special homework task this week, designed to raise a smile among people forced to stay indoors.

Pupils were tasked with creating a video to boost the spirits of people stuck at home during the coronavirus crisis.

But, while he was keen to cheer up as many people as possible, IT teacher Mr Dring probably didn’t expect that one video would reach more than 600,000 viewers – including a stop-motion animation legend.

The one-minute movie, created by 12-year-old Aaron Rich, features a sneaky pink hamster who keeps stealing sweets from a monkey.

The clip was shared by Aaron’s dad on Twitter and quickly went viral – amassing more than 638,000 views in less than 24 hours.

Among those to praise the video was award-winning animator Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman Animations, best known for its ‘claymation’ films including Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run.

Aaron’s dad, Ben Rich, said: “This was a piece of homework from his wonderful IT teacher Mr Dring, who asked his class to make a video to cheer up anyone who was stuck at home.

“My wife has done a brilliant job of working with the kids, working out timetables and planning their days, and this was his first task.”

The school doing ‘tremendous work’

Tes received a particularly high influx of positive messages about St Anselm’s College in Wirral.

Parents expressed their gratitude for staff who have gone “above and beyond” in these unprecedented times.

Sam Reay said: “Teachers have sent messages of support to ensure all the children know they are there to help and support them with any worries they may have.

“All I can say is WELL DONE @anselmscollege. I’m so proud to say my son is a part of this fantastic college community.”

Another parent, who is a key worker, added: “St Anselm’s college has been tremendous. Work is planned as per their usual timetable but more than that they email and use social media to encourage, support and motivate their students to be the best they can in such difficult circumstances.”

All the staff going above and beyond for pupils

The whole school workforce has received praise from TV star Peter Andre, who said his “admiration for teachers has gone way, way high” after attempting to get involved in home-ed following this week’s school shutdown.

Mr Andre told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I’m used to having the kids around but I’m not used to the homework side of it. The kids are starting to realise that I’m not as smart as I thought I was!”

He added: “As most guys would know, we don’t do well with structure, it ends up being destructure, destructing! It’s all a bit of a mess. Yesterday, for example, I tried to make bread in between their homework and us doing things, and I mean the thing nearly exploded.”

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