OVERWHELMING: Aliesha Todd and Anton Ranger with their children Kaylen, Harlem, Raiden and Madison. Mrs Todd says homeschooling will be tough for parents of children with learning challenges. (Picture: Contributed)
OVERWHELMING: Aliesha Todd and Anton Ranger with their children Kaylen, Harlem, Raiden and Madison. Mrs Todd says homeschooling will be tough for parents of children with learning challenges. (Picture: Contributed)

Parents, students share concern over home-based learning

WHAT should be a year full of celebration and excitement has turned into uncertainty for this year’s Year 12 graduates, who fear their career goals may take longer to reach amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Moranbah State High School student Christian Sheridan has his sights set on a career in medicine, with hopes of one day becoming a surgeon.

After the Queensland Government announced students would be moving to a home-based learning model for the first five weeks of term two, he was afraid students might not receive the grades they originally expected.

“I need a high ATAR so that I can be accepted into my courses, but without face-to-face education I’m afraid that I, as well as my peers, won’t be able to achieve as well as what we have planned to,” he said.

The 17-year-old was mostly looking forward to making long-lasting memories with friends during his final year of high school, but instead they have been forced to isolate until the coronavirus pandemic ceases.

Moranbah State High School student Christian Sheridan.
Moranbah State High School student Christian Sheridan.

“This is not how I had expected my final year of schooling to be,” Christian said.

“For many of us, 2020 was going to be our last year together, so if I’m being honest, I kind of came into the school year expecting it to be like High School Musical with our whole cohort just having fun and making memories together, but instead we are all stuck at home in isolation.”

The government has announced all students who are able to be supervised at home and learn from home are to stay home, except for vulnerable students and children of essential workers.

However, Blackwater mum Aliesha Todd said it would make things difficult for her eldest children, Madison, 8, and Kaylen, 7, who both have autism.

“My eldest three all have autism so really thrive off routine. This whole situation has really thrown them out,” she said.

“They want to go back to school.”

Despite being an essential worker, Mrs Todd said she wasn’t able to send them to school because she worked nightshift, which meant she was home during the day.

“My partner works seven and seven away, so it’s really tough,” she said.

“I’m trying to work and keep them busy. It’s all just really overwhelming.”

The mother of four said both her eldest children were already slightly behind at school and she thought the homeschooling would just make things worse when they returned to the classroom.

“I think the eldest will be OK but my son won’t even do therapy at the moment,” she said.

“I really don’t know how it will go.

“My kids are struggling so bad already and homeschooling is going to make it 100 times worse.”

A Queensland Department of Education spokeswoman said teachers and school staff would still be responsible for the curriculum.

“Principals, teachers and support staff will be working on-site at schools to deliver learning for students and can be contacted for support as they normally would,” she said.

But it’s not just the education side of things Christian Sheridan is worried about, with the uncertainty of whether they will get the chance to return to school at all.

“As a grade 12 student, this year was going to be filled with all of my lasts – my last school camp, my last sports carnival, or even just my last trip to the tuckshop,” Christian said.

“With everything going on, it is extremely disappointing that I might not be able to participate in all of these, as well as, potentially, my graduation.”

Like many students, he will be doing all he can to complete his studies from home.

“I think having to do school from home was a smart decision,” Christian said.

“As much as it messes with my senior year, I still think it was the right choice.

“Without the face-to-face interactions, I know that my peers and I are going to struggle, but if we focus hard enough and stay on track, we should be OK.”

The home-based learning model will start on Monday, April 20.

A decision about the model of learning for the remainder of term two will be made by mid-May.