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Sir David Attenborough and Professor Brian Cox among celebrities teaching children online during lockdown

Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker and EastEnders actor Danny Dyer also taking part

Sarah Young
Monday 20 April 2020 09:21 BST
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Education Secretary: I can't give you a date for when schools will re-open

Sir David Attenborough is teaching children geography online as part of an initiative to help young people during school closures.

On Monday, the broadcaster and naturalist will begin educating pupils on topics such as oceans, animals and mapping the world through the BBC’s virtual learning programme, BBC Bitesize.

The lessons will be available to watch on BBC Bitesize Daily through BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button, and all elements of the classes have been developed with teaching professionals.

A host of other famous faces are also taking part including Professor Brian Cox, who will teach science topics such as force, the solar system and gravity, and Manchester City star Sergio Aguero, who will help youngsters learn to count in Spanish.

Former shadow chancellor and Strictly Come Dancing star Ed Balls has also been recruited to deliver a maths lesson for 11 to 14-year-olds, while EastEnders actor Danny Dyer, who is a direct descendant of King Edward III, will provide a history class for five to seven-year-olds on Henry VIII.

Along with more than 200 teachers, other celebrities taking part include singers Liam Payne and Mabel, as well as Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker.

There will be a total of six 20-minute programmes each day, aimed at different age groups.

There will also be daily education podcasts and programmes on BBC Four on weekday evenings to support GCSE and A-level courses.

Alice Webb, director of BBC Children’s and Education said: “We’re proud that the BBC can bring together so many people to offer such a wide-ranging package of support to help children and parents right across the UK at such a challenging time.

“We said the BBC would be there for people through this crisis, and we meant it. It’s vital that every child is able to continue learning – and the lessons we’re putting on will make sure they have fun at the same time.”

The initiative follows the news that the government has no planned date for schools to reopen.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press briefing, education secretary Gavin Williamson thanked all of those working in schools and nurseries but said he cannot open their doors until the government’s five tests are met.

“People are anxious to know when we’re going to relax restrictions, when schools are likely to be fully back and open again. Of course, I want nothing more than to see schools back, get them back to normal, make sure that children are sat around learning and experiencing the joy of being at school,” he said.

“But I can’t give you a date. Because before we do, we need to meet five tests.”

Williamson also announced the launch of a national online academy which aims to offer pupils 180 online lessons a week.

You can find out more about how to access the BBC Bitesize daily online lessons here.

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