Beloved kids TV star Suzy Cato involved in new education channel for students learning from home during lockdown

Source: 1News

A raft of changes to allow schools students to work from home have been announced, including options for people without consistent internet connection.

The $87.7 million emergency funding boost was announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins today.

It includes two new television channels for education-related content, one for English medium and one for Māori medium, including Pacific-targeted content.

The broadcasts will run for six and a half hours a day and include an hour of Te Reo Māori as well.

Some specialised content will be designed for parents, to help them support their child's education, and early learners.

One of the channels will be provided by TVNZ, taking the place of TVNZ2 +1 on Freeview 7 and Sky 502, with beloved children's TV star Suzy Cato confirmed to be involved.

"TVNZ is excited to partner with the Ministry of Education to deliver Home Learning TV | Papa Kāinga TV to Kiwi kids," a TVNZ spokesperson says.

"This is an essential service and we'll follow strict health and safety protocols to look after our teachers and crew throughout production."

As well as Ms Cato, other well-known faces who will feature are Wellington Paranormal's Kate O'Leary, neuroscience educator Nathan Wallis and former Studio 2 co-host Jordan Vandermade.

More online resources are being made for parents, as well as increasing the number of students who have access to internet and tech devices.

"There’s already a lot of good education video content available, and the Ministry is working with experts and educators to refine and further develop it," Mr Hipkins says.

Hard-copy material is also being provided and will be delivered for different year levels.

Mr Hipkins says there are tens of thousands of households without either internet connection or an education device at home.

"We’re working with telecommunications companies and internet service providers to connect as many of these households as we can as quickly as possible," he says.

"We are also working with schools to identify the students who lack a suitable device for online learning, and we plan to deliver as many devices as possible to the students who will benefit the most."

Public health advice will be followed during this, Mr Hipkins says.

The hope is to have students connected ready for the upcoming Term 2, which begins next Wednesday, but Mr Hipkins warns it's a "big and complex job".

"Not everyone who needs them will get internet access, digital devices and hard packs at the same time," he says.

"Where we are unable to immediately connect a household with the Internet or get a device to a student, we will be working with schools and kura to provide hard-copy learning materials direct to homes."

Priority will be for high school students working towards NCEA and those with "greatest need to disadvantage".

"We will then move down the year levels from years 10 to 1," Mr Hipkins says.