Enlist army of tutors to help disadvantaged pupils, says education commission

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The Commission on School Reform has called for urgent recruitment of retired and trainee teachers to help with online learning.

A girl on a laptop

An “army of online tutors” made up of retired and trainee teachers should be recruited during the coronavirus shutdown, the Commission on School Reform has said.

It has warned the attainment gap between children in well-off families and the most disadvantaged could widen during the extended period of absence.

The commission, whose members include teachers and education experts, has now called for a recruitment drive to support online teaching to tackle the issue.

In a paper about learning from home, commission chairman and former director of education Keir Bloomer suggests Education Scotland urgently recruits tutors to help pupils, schools and teachers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Bloomer said: “As John Swinney said last week when quite rightly announcing the school closure, this is the first time our national education system has ever been completely shut down.

“This has significant implications for children’s education and for their social isolation, and evidence suggests that disadvantaged children will suffer the most.

“Parents will want to do their best but will need support, and the commission is clear that Education Scotland can help by recruiting an army of online tutors from the ranks of retired teachers and teaching students to supplement the excellent online work being done by existing class teachers.”

He added: “We do not pretend that this is an easy task but Education Scotland has the staff and skills to do it and the Scottish Government has the ability to publicise it widely.

“Nobody can make this a normal time for a child’s education but we can make it less harmful, and we must make it better for the vulnerable children who stand to suffer the most.”

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