As large numbers of students across Victoria moved to remote and flexible learning in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some parents feared that their children may miss out on the social benefits of face-to-face education. Parents and students at Virtual School Victoria say that learning from home shouldn't be a barrier to a student's opportunity to connect and establish relationships with their peers, no matter their age.
Conference calls with friends is a highlight of Grade 1 student Lincoln's week. Lincoln, a student at Virtual School Victoria, has been learning remotely for 18 months and is no stranger to forming connections and establishing relationships with classmates, all from his kitchen table.
Lincoln's parents, who have had two older children who attend Virtual School Victoria, explain that the school offers multiple channels for students to talk and laugh with one another, while encouraging children to get outside, take breaks and get involved with community.
Middle and Upper Primary
Donna, a parent from Virtual School Victoria, has a daughter Mindil in Grade 5. Donna explains that remote and flexible learning had been of great benefit to her daughter, who has autism, 'Remote learning enabled Mindil to be set up with a timetable that was individually driven, she could take adequate breaks and manage her day. This format of learning opened her afternoon up for activities, and she has since become more socially and physically active, partaking in virtual gaming clubs, gymnastics and music. She even placed third at nationals in biathlon, making more and more friends along the way.'
VCE student Audrey says that remote and flexible learning has allowed balance back into her life. The seventeen-year-old, who is involved in several extra-curricular activities and has a part-time job, loves the smaller class sizes and the regular online forum tasks.
Online forum tasks, which Audrey says has helped her and her classmates form close bonds, encourages students to mix with classmates and share their learning experiences. It is these interactions that Audrey highlights, 'Personally, these connections and support structures amongst classmates have helped me be successful in remote learning.'
These, along with a variety of virtual clubs that Virtual School Victoria has created, encourages Audrey and her friends to socialise, share their passions and enjoy themselves while learning.
The Department of Education and Training is working with students, teachers, principals and families to ensure lessons from remote and flexible learning are being captured and shared. Access resources on the Learning from Home web page, and find out the latest advice on the staged return to on-site schooling on the Staged return to on-site schooling web page.