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There With You: Children across east London learning maths and English together online in ‘virtual classes’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 April 2020 | UPDATED: 19:12 14 April 2020

The Kumah family go online for their three children to join the virtual classroom sessions . Picture: L&Q Housing

The Kumah family go online for their three children to join the virtual classroom sessions . Picture: L&Q Housing

L&Q Housing

Schoolchildren stuck at home during the pandemic emergency who may be behind in maths and English are being offered online tuition by an east London housing organisation to get them up to speed.

Seven-year-old Nelson Kumah goes online to learrn with his new tutor and classmates. Picture: L&Q HousingSeven-year-old Nelson Kumah goes online to learrn with his new tutor and classmates. Picture: L&Q Housing

Pupils from low-income backgrounds are being matched with university students who have been trained and hired to provide weekly lessons in small groups in “virtual classrooms”.

The online lessons programme has been set up by L&Q housing association run by Tutors United for primary school pupils during the coronavirus lockdown, keeping them in touch with their tutors and classmates.

Owen and Elsie Kumah’s three children, who are all at home in Shoreditch, have caught up with their schoolwork with the online tutoring.

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“It is really helping to keep the children busy,” Owen said. “My wife and I are helping them with their schoolwork as much as possible, making a timetable for work and for playing, but it’s fantastic to have this extra support.

“The tutors and the other kids taking part are now part of our lives.”

The Kumahs joined the Tutors United programme through their landlords, L&Q Housing based in Stratford, which has given £106,000 over two years to the tutoring organisation to provide free lessons for children on their estates in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Barking & Dagenham and Waltham Forest.

Tutors United’s Olivia Mead said: “The sense of continuity that online tutoring offers is invaluable for children who are used to going into school five days a week and seeing their friends, but aren’t able to do that now. They forge great friendships in the virtual classes even though they come from different schools.”

Up to six pupils take part in each virtual class, with the same “classmates” every week so that they are able to socialise and learn together from their homes, giving them a sense of normality.

Around 1,000 pupils have been helped with maths and English by Tutors United which has hired, trained and paid some 300 university students to hold online classes. It helps pupils from low-income families who the organisation says are on average 10 months behind others in English and maths by the end of primary school.


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