Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset


May 5, 2005
Virtual learning service praised by Burnham-On-Sea mother

Virtual learning lets kids work from home if they can't attend schoolA Burnham-On-Sea mother has praised a County Council operated 'virtual classroom' service that lets children continue their education even if they are unable to attend school.

Lynn Baker's 14-year-old daughter, Micha, took part in the scheme when she was absent from King Alfred's School for around six months due to illness.

During this time Micha used the virtual classroom to keep up to speed with her classmates on the core subjects maths, English and science.

Mum Lynn said: "I thinks it's a brilliant idea. It's not just good for learning but Micha was also able to talk to other children, reminding her there's more to life than being stuck at home. This really did her good as she could get quite down not seeing her friends."

"It was really great for both of us and I enjoyed being more involved, sitting in on lessons and helping Micha with her homework. It also helped build her confidence and she had over taken the other children when she returned to school."

The virtual classroom, which has just been short-listed for a top government award, enables pupils who are unable to go to school, for a variety of reasons, to receive lessons in their homes using the latest technology.

Somerset County Council's Andrew Mellamphy, Social Inclusion and Access Business Officer, Linda Miles, Virtual Classroom Teacher, Ray Homewood, Virtual Classroom Technician, Tracy Casson, Virtual Classroom Co-ordinator, Jacky Bartholomew, Access Manager, Paul Harris, Virtual Classroom Teacher and Diane Kershaw, Somerset Medical Tuition Service ManagerPupils are provided with a laptop so they can join the virtual classroom allowing the classroom to be brought to the pupil.

Pupils are taught in small groups and take part in lessons online and are also able to email their work for marking. They enjoy talking to and emailing other pupils and teachers, and are supported with home visits.

The Virtual Classroom teachers are based in Taunton and drawn from the County Council's Somerset Medical Tuition Service which provides teachers for children unable to attend mainstream schooling.

An initial pilot project, launched in April 2004 with Key Stage 3 pupils, has now been extended to pupils across Key Stages 2, 3 and 4 with further roll out planned for later in the year.

The comments come after the service was short-listed for the Social Inclusion Achievement of the Year Award by the Municipal Journal Local Government Awards 2005. Representatives from Somerset County Council will join other finalists at a ceremony to be held in London and hosted by BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, on June 27, where the winner will be announced.

The photo shows the team behind the virtual learning project including Andrew Mellamphy, Social Inclusion and Access Business Officer, Linda Miles, Virtual Classroom Teacher, Ray Homewood, Virtual Classroom Technician, Tracy Casson, Virtual Classroom Co-ordinator, Jacky Bartholomew, Access Manager, Paul Harris, Virtual Classroom Teacher and Diane Kershaw, Somerset Medical Tuition Service Manager.

RELATED LINKS:

Somerset County Council

 



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