Coronavirus: Teachers join forces to create online curriculum hub

Teachers from across the country have recorded lessons that will be shared for free on a new online curriculum hub to help address schools’ digital divide.

Schools Week understands the project, expected to be called the Oak National Academy, will consist of around 180 filmed lessons from experts across different subjects, covering from early years up to year 10.

While the platform has been led by the sector, it’s understood to have the backing of the Department for Education, which hopes to publicise the scheme before next week.

Around 40 teachers have been involved in making videos, which they hope will be available for free across the country.

The teachers are from a range of schools across the maintained and academy sector, including teachers from leading trusts such as Ark, United Learning, Star Academies, Outwood Grange and the Inspiration Trust.

Schools Week understands the idea is to make high-quality resources available should teachers want to use them. That could include schools and teachers struggling with moving learning resources online during the coronavirus outbreak.

As the videos are recorded, parents would be able to watch the hour-long lessons whenever they choose. It is hoped the website will be launched next week at the latest – which would be the start of the summer term.

A poll by Teacher Tapp found nearly two-thirds of teachers said a free national curriculum online resource hub would be most helpful for them or their pupils.

It was the second most popular answer behind making broadband, a high-speed internet connection, available for every child.

Last week the Department for Education released a list of free online resources to help pupil’s learning from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

However, the move was criticised by education suppliers, who raised safeguarding concerns and complained there was a “lack of tender process” in producing the list.

There are also still concerns the government is yet to act on another emerging digital divide – poorer pupils being left behind because they don’t have the devices or internet access to use online resources.

Polling by the Sutton Trust found over a third of parents with children aged 5-16 years old said their child does not have their own computer.

A Teacher Tapp survey found just a quarter of teachers in the most affluent schools thought their pupils were doing less than one hour of learning per day, compared to nearly half of pupils in the most deprived schools.

Seb Chapleau, a former primary school headteacher and now director of the Big Education Conversation, said while it’s pleasing to see “great resources being made available online”, it was “extremely ironic the government is not supporting the thousands of children who have no access to data and devices”.

The big tech firms and internet providers have been called on to step up and help poorer children get online. Neither BT nor Apple responded when contacted by Schools Week about the suggestions.