How is the pandemic reshaping the way we teach our children?

For parents, and for teachers, lockdown has presented a unique challenge when it comes to education.

With the majority of pupils now learning from home, the idea of the 'classroom' isn't what it used to be. With no return in sight, ITV Border has been given special access inside two schools, to look at how the pandemic is reshaping the way we're teaching our children. 

One of them is Solway Community School in Silloth, where the teachers are still working, but now in empty classrooms, communicating with pupils online. Covid has created a strange learning environment, but one that appears to be working well.

ITV Border spoke virtually to 12-year-old Elle, who has had to adapt to the new world of remote learning. She told us what it's like learning at home.

ITV Border spoke to 12-year-old Elle, who has had to adapt to the new world of remote learning. Credit: ITV Border

"It's going really well and I'm getting through things very well," she says. "They've sent us computers and then they do Zoom call lessons as well. I think it's been good doing the Zoom calls but overall I'd rather be at school with the teachers and my friends." 

Her mother, Kirsty Dunn, says she's happy that the teaching is as good as it can be.

"I was struggling to start with," she says. "But we've got there in the end and they're doing brilliantly. They're ready at the start of each day at quarter past 9 and raring to go." 

Staff at the school are doing all they can to make sure the learning experience for the pupils doesn't suffer. We asked whether they're getting the same quality of education as they would in school. 

Tom Hailwood, the Head of Schools at the Cumbria Futures Federation. Credit: ITV Border

"We think so," says Tom Hailwood, the Head of Schools at the Cumbria Futures Federation. "We're getting a high level of engagement with the students, firstly at the registration in the morning and through the live lessons during the day. There's a lot of interactivity band engagement so we feel they're getting a good experience but it is very different being at home than in school obviously." 

Jonathan Sunter, the Quality of Education lead, adds: "We are aware that some families have three or four siblings all in a home and maybe only one or two devices and that creates logistical issues so where possible we've done everything we can to overcome those by supplying laptops where we've been able to or keyboards just to help because we know it's a big challenge for parents at home as well." 

The school is still open for the children of key workers. Wendy Smart has two sons here, allowing her to continue teaching at the neighbouring primary school. 

"To me it's absolutely vital. I'm a key worker at the primary school and like Solway we're open for Key worker children, vulnerable children. If Solway wasn't open I would really struggle." 

At Inglewood Junior school in Carlisle it's a similar situation, with teachers doing all they can to support the pupils. Teacher, Matthew Squires, explained how they work. 

"I upload a lesson in different subjects each day, English, Maths or an afternoon subject. My children complete that online using our Showbie system and I'm online, giving them feedback, help if they're struggling." 

All the pupils at this school have access to an iPad. 9-year-old Ellis told us: "I think it's good with the iPads with the Showbie apps and educational games."

Ellis and his mum Joanne Graves. Credit: ITV Border

His mum, Joanne Graves, agrees. "Things are taught differently from when I was at school and I've got to make sure that he's doing it the way that he needs to, so I think it's a really good way of learning from home."

The headteacher David Grimshaw, says: "Obviously every school has their own way of doing things. I know as a member of the Primary Headteachers Executive, I'm confident in saying, that every school in the county is absolutely trying the best that they possibly can to make sure that provision for remote teacher learning is the best it can be." 

These are challenging times for all but schools across the region are finding ways to make it work.