Advice for Parents in Wales Helping School Kids Learn At Home – Recommended Lockdown Resources


How Are You Doing? The New Normal

If you are like me, you are struggling at the moment to work from home; support your children with their schoolwork and try and keep it all together with a smile on your face.

It’s hard isn’t it?

I can’t believe we’ve been in ‘lockdown’ now for basically three months. In many ways it’s amazing how quickly we adjust to this new normal. But we can’t help worrying about the kids….

I think it’s only natural. We worry about them missing their friends and we worry about how they are doing emotionally. I’ve had lots of phone calls recently with parents asking for advice about how they can support their children at home. Usually it starts with

‘I’m not a teacher but….’

I totally get it.

Only this week it was reported in the Times Educational Supplement that the exams regulator Ofqual is in talks with headteachers’ unions regarding 2021 GCSE and A-level examinations. Who knows the shape of these exams? There is talk of reducing the content of these exams or even open-book papers. At this stage, all we know if that many students will have missed months of school.

So it is natural that we are all worrying about the impact that this will have on our children. In Wales we are expecting our children to return for four weeks before they break for summer. But the reality for my son is going to be four single 2 ½ hour sessions. That’s it. And, reading between the lines, it seems as if we are being prepared for this blending of home school learning with occasional in school sessions in September too.

So I totally understand why my phone is ringing more; why parents feel the need to ‘keep on top’ of this and become more involved because it looks like we are in this for the long haul.

So to try and help, I’ve put together a list of what I consider to be the best support around. Depending on your child’s age and motivation you can buy these resources and set them a certain amount each week to do, or they can just use them independently and you have the peace of mind of knowing that you have provided them with some really helpful support. I’ve adjusted the list by age, from Year 5 and 6, right up to A-level.

Please be careful when buying support and revision materials for your children. Most revision guides that say AQA or Edexcel or GCSE 9 – 1 are for English specifications and the exams in England can be very different to the Welsh exam board. In Wales we follow WJEC. So GCSE Maths in England for example contains topics that are not examined in Wales and vice versa. Some revision guides are therefore no good at all, so do be careful. You could be wasting your money and your child could even be working on topics that will not come up in the exam. However, when it comes to the flashcards that I have listed below and the York Notes for their texts for English Literature there are no resources specific for WJEC so the ones included do work really well.

Furthermore, exams change all the time. So revision guides that were great five years ago are now out of date because the exam specifications are so different. Just be careful.

The tables below provide links to various up-to-date resources for Wales. For younger children, it might be workbooks and flashcards to help with their understanding. For older children, it will be tailored revision for exam syllabi.

Finally, if your child is in year 11 or 12 and they want to study medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, or perhaps apply for Oxbridge they would normally be getting quite a lot of support with this. The final section provides guides on UCAT and BMAT tests; applying to medical school, the UCAS process etc. (The UCAT test used to be called UKCAT. Some material still has the K, some doesn’t. It is the same)

These are what I consider to be the best support around. I hope it helps.

Good luck!

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