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How the BBC is helping with homeschooling

As the nation’s schools move to remote learning during the pandemic, the BBC has launched a new initiative to ensure all children can access curriculum-based learning, even if they don’t have access to the internet. Read on for more details!


Homeschooling is difficult for a variety of reasons. You may be trying to work from home while your children study at home which puts pressure on everyone. 

Also, school curriculums have probably changed a great deal since you were at school yourself so you’re on a steep learning curve at the same time as your children. And of course, you’re not a trained teacher so inevitably it’s going to be difficult.

That’s why there’s a new offering from the BBC which aims to help with these problems by ensuring all children can access curriculum-based learning by broadcasting educational programmes linked to the national curriculum.  

Why TV?

This initiative has been warmly welcomed by parents and their children. It helps because not everyone has easy access to the internet, not all children have laptops, not all homes have sufficient access to devices for all their children and internet access is still weak in parts of the country. Even if you’re fortunate to live in an area with good internet access there are still likely to be drops in the signal – and knowing our luck, just when your child is trying to file a piece of work! 

So putting programmes on TV it makes it much easier for everyone. TVs tend to be bigger than laptops and other devices, can be viewed much more easily by more than one member of the family, and ends arguments and conflict over who has access to devices and when. 

Why the BBC?

The BBC has years of experience offering education on the air. When the Open University began in 1969 it was called “the university of the air” because many of its teaching modules were shown on the then-new BBC Two channel. The university was a pioneer in distance learning which was quite novel at the time.

Also, long before this, the BBC ran programmes in the morning for schools. Some of you may even remember watching one of these programmes at school. 

What’s on offer for primary schoolchildren?

Starting this week (Monday 11th January) each weekday the children’s channel CBBC will have a three-hour block of primary school programming from 9am, including BBC Live Lessons and BBC Bitesize Daily, as well as other educational programming such as Our School and Celebrity Supply Teacher and much-loved titles such as Horrible Histories, Art Ninja and Operation Ouch.

BBC Bitesize online has structured lessons in Maths and English for all year groups – these can be used at home or in the classroom. This Term’s Topics also covers other curriculum subjects and content for the Spring curriculum. This content can be easily incorporated into a learning plan or used to explore different topics at home. 

To find out what content is available click on BBC Bitesize on the year group and subject.

What’s on offer for secondary school students?

BBC Two will cater for secondary students with programming to support the GCSE curriculum of at least two hours of content each weekday.

Content will be built around Bitesize Daily secondary shows, complemented by Shakespeare and classic drama adaptations alongside science, history and factual titles from the BBC’s award-winning factual programming units.

Bitesize also has two-week learning packs for English and Maths in KS3 (years 7, 8 and 9, students aged 11-14) as well as This Term’s Topics for other subjects.

For students in Years 10 and 11, Bitesize GCSE allows students to pick their exam board and subject to find everything they need to help with their studies.

There is also a great deal of online content which parents, children and teachers can access when and where they need it. Visit BBC Bitesize for Secondary to get more details.

Bitesize Daily primary and secondary will also air every day on BBC Red Button as well as episodes being available on-demand on BBC iPlayer.

Education for everyone

Of course, you don’t have to be a school student or parent to watch and enjoy these programmes. Even if you and your children left school some time ago it’s still interesting to see what’s being studied now and how it’s being studied. It offers an extra focus while we’re in lockdown.

It’s much easier just to turn your TV on than to seek out and take part in an online course – though these have value too. 

Other tools for learning

It’s worth exploring what else is out there to augment the TV lessons. One place to try is Oxplore: The Home of Big Questions set up by The University of Oxford to encourage school students to stretch themselves by looking at interesting issues of the day. This is aimed directly at school-age children from 11-18. But younger children may enjoy it too. It asks questions such as “is there life after death?”, “should we eat animals?” and “are there aliens?”. This is a great way to encourage learning about science, the environment and history. 

Museums may offer virtual visits so you can still benefit from seeing artefacts and learning about their history, without the bother of arranging a visit, organising transport and food! Try a Google search of any museums you’re interested in.

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