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National helpline StarLine launched to help parents struggling with home schooling

A national helpline has been launched to support parents trying to home school their children.

StarLine is a free-phone telephone number, which will offer personalised advice and support from a team of qualified teachers, education and parenting experts, to any family struggling with the demands and pressures of trying to learn from home.

Parents and children have been trying to learn from home since March
Parents and children have been trying to learn from home since March

It will be open six days and is available to all parents and carers of school-aged children nationwide and also supported by a website.

As part of attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus schools closed to the majority of pupils on Friday, March 20 with only the children of keyworkers still able to attend.

The closure has left parents and carers attempting to educate their offspring from home, possibly alongside working themselves and caring for other family members in need of help during the lockdown.

Schools and nurseries closed in March
Schools and nurseries closed in March

Those behind the helpline, which his being led by those in the education sector, alongside other organisations such as parenting website Mumsnet, and supported by the Department for Education, hopes that the new option of telephone support may relieve some of the burden and pressure families are experiencing by offering empathy and reassurance alongside elements of practical advice.

Mumsnet founder and CEO Justine Roberts said: “Lockdown learning has been a huge adjustment for all families, and for some it’s extremely challenging. On our forums we’re seeing thousands of discussions, covering everything from anxiety about the impacts on GCSE and A Level pupils, or granular questions about Key Stage 1 literacy, to worries about children’s socialisation and mental health and frustration about having to make one laptop stretch between three kids.

"There’s no doubt that anxiety and stress are high in the mix, and some reassuring input from expert educators will be really valuable to frazzled and frantic parents.”

Families can use the helpline for advice on learning and behaviour
Families can use the helpline for advice on learning and behaviour

Parents phoning the helpline may require support with a specific topic, such as algebra or English, or simply be looking for tips about how to structure the day, deal with difficult behaviour or manage the learning of several children at once.

StarLine's team of advisers will share tips, techniques and advice on where to access resources to help those in need.

It will be open to queries across all areas of the curriculum and all phases of education but in addition to this callers can ask for help and advice regarding behaviour, wellbeing as well as information on supporting pupils who have special needs or disabilities.

All calls will be confidential.

Leora Cruddas, chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts, said: “For many parents and guardians, this is an anxious time as they support their children’s education in their homes. A national helpline to support parents with home learning is a very welcome contribution to our national response to the coronavirus, and one that is welcomed by the Confederation of School Trusts.”

Parents and carers can contact the StarLine team on 0330 313 9162. Alternatively for more information visit www.starline.org.uk