A Suffolk headteacher has been given a gold star by parents for his message of support and advice over concerns about their children’s schooling during the coronavirus lockdown.

East Anglian Daily Times: Stowmarket High School Picture: MARK LANGFORDStowmarket High School Picture: MARK LANGFORD (Image: Archant)

Stowmarket head Dave Lee-Allan posted the advice on the school’s Facebook page as a way of guiding them while the school is shut because of the pandemic.

Mr Lee-Allan said most of the advice he had found on the internet but he had fine-tuned it to reflect the needs for the school after parents had complained children were feeling “swamped” by the workload being set for them online by staff.

He said: “The staff have been so diligent for the students and I am very proud of the way they have rallied round in the face of the crisis.

“But we had messages coming in from parents that the children were getting stressed from the workloads so we knew we had to take another look at how we were doing things.”

The four-point message from Mr Lee-Allan said:

•This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting on the whole world. Let’s keep perspective. Homeschooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child’s school teacher in whatever form you choose. This is, at best, distance learning. In reality, it’s everyone trying to separate their bums from their elbows, because none of us know what we’re doing and what’s right and wrong here.

•You are, and always have been, your child’s primary educator. If you decide that your child isn’t going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, then that is your choice. That is your right. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.

•Schools don’t know what they’re doing either. They had no notice, no preparation time and we were NOT told to ‘continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home’ – that’s NOT possible. If it were, we’d all be out of a job!

•It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a younger aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you’re trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Again, unprecedented. Stop trying to be superheroes.

MORE: School farewell to old building hit by coronavirusOne wrote: “Thank you so much, as we were all getting stressed thinking we had to get all this work done. With three children at different ages and abilities this has put our minds at rest now.”

Another wrote: “Thank you for this, as a parent who is working from home for the council during the day and trying to ‘homeschool’ a 14 and six-year-old in the evening I was stressing out about not being able to get everything done.”

Mr Lee-Allan said he was grateful parents had found the advice useful: “It’s nice that parents appreciate it, that they are saying things like this justifies the post.

“It is an extraordinary time and parents can be assured that every staff member has the best interests of the children at heart.”

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