Poor internet access will hamper learning say principals

Mahurangi principals have mixed views on whether their schools can continue to effectively teach children following their forced shut down this week.

Principals from areas with unreliable internet connections or where a high proportion of students lack electronic devices are expressing the most uncertainty.

Wellsford school principal Dave Bradley says unreliable internet and lack of devices means only around 40 per cent of students can realistically continue their learning online.

“Others will be given printed work books. We then need the support of parents to monitor and support the children at home to complete the tasks,” he says.

His views are echoed by Paparoa principal Simon Schuster who also highlights a lack of devices.

“The board is open to lending devices to families if needed.”

Mr Schuster adds the school has prepared take home material for students.

Other schools have more confidently progressed with setting up students for online learning in response to prompting from the Ministry of Education.

Warkworth School principal Cynthia Holden says it has set up digital devices and an online teaching programme for all students from Years 1 to 6.

She says the school was prepared for closure and is able to respond.

Tomarata School principal Cherylene Neels says in addition to preparing for digital learning, the school has posted suggested links on the school website where children can go to further their education.

Horizon School principal Helen Pearson says the school is well set up for digital learning and has even had trial runs, where a teacher conducts a lesson from another room while students in the classroom follow online using digital devices.

Ms Pearson says for younger students up to Year 3, some activities will involve online learning platforms such as Google Classroom, but there will be more emphasis on suggesting ways parents can help their children develop a love of learning and forging more positive relationships.

This might involve engaging children more in the parent’s own passions and interests.

We definitely won’t be giving worksheets. We don’t want to create a compliance mentality that adds to the stress at home,” she says.