A huge thank you to the education professionals who contributed so wisely to our Education Sector Mastermind Group; every child deserves a great education.  Together we are shaping how volunteers can continue to support the education agenda during this challenging time.

Some young people will soon return to school whilst others will remain at home. The success gap in home schooling between children from different backgrounds is well documented and those from poor families are sadly anticipated to fall further behind.  Poor education attainment lowers self-esteem leading to truancy, disengagement and ultimately mental health or behavioural problems.  Maintaining engagement through innovative virtual interaction on the terms of the learner will make a difference.

It will not be easy.  Poorer children are likely to have no access to technology or at best an older smart phone and no tablet or computer. Young people do not use text or email and must be reached through their preferred social media channel. Morning programmes will be helpful to young families whilst programmes for teenagers before midday is futile. Virtual educational volunteering will have to fight for screen time and sessions must not be too long.  Group sizes must be small to maintain engagement, and this must all be delivered within a safeguarded environment.

Pressure on education key workers is significant as they redesign their teaching plans.  With many due to return to the classroom over coming weeks the pressure to maintain social distancing with concerns about their own personal health can lead to increased mental health issues. Volunteer buddying and gift wrapping for key education workers will help.  Parents are also under pressure to keep their children motivated with new ideas.  An online knowledge bank of activities in technology, arts and craft, science and nature and cooking would help parents struggling for ideas.

Business engagement in education aligned with the national curriculum eases the journey from education to employment.  Volunteers are unlikely to participate in F2F school activities until a vaccine is developed or the virus is eliminated from these shores.  Virtual delivery of interview experience, work experience and career networking will bridge the gap, and interactive goal setting will help young people choose the right path. Interactive engagement from business people will inspire the next generation and online delivery of our virtual enterprise skills, environmental engagement programmes, healthy lifestyle and personal finance programmes will make a difference.  Virtual reading help will give younger children a better start in life.

Employee Volunteering is a Community Interest Company helping companies to build high impact volunteering programmes. Our fully managed team activities, skills programmes and suite of online volunteering solutions are there to help volunteers make an even bigger difference. #strongertogether.