Mid Canterbury Principals’ Association spokesman Tim Kuipers is praising the Government’s support for distance learning in schools, saying it “covers a lot of bases”.
He said the Government’s pro active approach aimed to reach as many families as possible and in particular those with the least resources available to them.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins has revealed a distance learning package that will increase the number of students who have internet access and devices, deliver hard copy packs of materials for different year levels, fund two television channels to broadcast education-related content, provide more online resources for parents through the Learning from Home website, and also fast-track ways to connect Learning Support co-ordinators with families remotely.
While it may struggle to get resources to everyone, the approach was to be applauded, and also needed “to work from both ends”, said Mr Kuipers, who is the principal at Ashburton Christian School.
Schools also needed to continue supporting families as best they could.
All but two families at his school had the means to continue learning from home, he said.
He was encouraging his teachers to continue to plan two weeks ahead.
Mr Kuipers said some schools in Christchurch had faced a similar lockdown scenario and distance learning for a number of weeks after the Christchurch earthquakes and had learnt from that.
“The families I have heard from are doing quite well on the whole during lockdown.
“And I believe there are a number of things we will be able to take from these unprecedented times that will benefit education and teaching in the long-term in this country.”
The benefits of online learning would be better understood and there would be more flexible learning options.
Technology was a tool that would continue to enhance teaching and many teachers already had the skills to be able to use it well, he said.
Minister Hipkins has also indicated that parents need to prepare to have their children at home for longer than the four-week lockdown period.
He has indicated while at level three there would be more flexibility, it will still take a while for most schools to reopen, and there will be a progressive reopening of the school system.