RETIRED and trainee teachers should be recruited during the coronavirus shutdown to make up an “army of online tutors”, according to an independent education group.

The Commission on School Reform, set up by the think tank Reform Scotland, has proposed an urgent effort to recruit tutors to help school pupils during the schools shutdown.

It warned the attainment gap between children in well-off families and the most disadvantaged could widen during the extended period of absence.

In a new paper – Learning at Home – the commission, chaired by former education director Keir Bloomer, said the national education agency Education Scotland has the capacity and experience to quickly put together such an army of tutors.

The commission, whose members include teachers and education experts, has now called for a recruitment drive to support online teaching to tackle the issue.

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Bloomer said: “As John Swinney said last week when quite rightly announcing the school closure, this is the first time our national education system has ever been completely shut down.

The National:

“This has significant implications for children’s education and for their social isolation, and evidence suggests that disadvantaged children will suffer the most.

“Parents will want to do their best but will need support, and the commission is clear that Education Scotland can help by recruiting an army of online tutors from the ranks of retired teachers and teaching students to supplement the excellent online work being done by existing class teachers.

“We do not pretend that this is an easy task but Education Scotland has the staff and skills to do it and the Scottish Government has the ability to publicise it widely.

“Nobody can make this a normal time for a child’s education but we can make it less harmful, and we must make it better for the vulnerable children who stand to suffer the most.”