Most people’s routines have drastically changed due to the coronavirus pandemic and government lockdown restrictions. Parents especially are being forced to adapt with schools now closed, with many hiring tutors to teach their kids online or choosing to homeschool their little ones. One man decided to take matters into his own hands by creating a brand new virtual place of learning – in his shed. The aptly named Shed School was launched by Ashley Bates, a teacher who wanted to create a community where kids can tune in and have fun, while also learning a thing or two.
From the cosy comfort of his shed, Ashley live streams English and maths classes for children aged between five to eight years old, and the project has quickly taken off. At first, Ashley had just 10 students. Just a few weeks later, he now has nearly 4,000. ‘When lockdown happened, I thought about the jobs I needed to do around my flat,’ he tells us. ‘I started cleaning out my shed when a family from next door walked past. They stopped and asked if I could help them teach their children as they knew I was a teacher, which I said I would go away and think about. It was like a lightbulb moment. ‘I walked away from the conversation and walked straight back into my unused shed. I suddenly thought, “you know what, I can help but want to help as many families as possible across the country”. ‘Thanks to the powers of technology, it’s allowed me to teach children across the globe from my shed straight to their front rooms.’ Kids are also sending in their work for Ashley to look over, and he shares their gems on the ‘wow wall’ in the shed.
Apart from being educational, The Shed School is about bringing together kids who are missing the community aspect of being in school. ‘The best thing for me is the feedback I’m receiving from the children and parents,’ Ashley added. ‘It really has been amazing! When the live lessons first went up on my own personal social media pages, there were 10, maybe 20 people watching. ‘After just a few weeks, we now have nearly 4,000 students watching from across the globe. I have children from New York, Italy, Egypt and Australia all sending in their work for me to look over and share with our little shed community.
‘And that’s what it is, a community. ‘It’s created a platform where the kids can feel like they belong and given them structure where they can see a familiar face every day that isn’t their mum or dad, and learn some cool stuff too.’ ‘I was concerned about the pressures put on parents to be able to teach their children, whilst trying to work and juggle everything else. Plus, teaching children in general is a scary task if you don’t have the tools and know how to do it. ‘With this in mind, I wanted to help as many key workers and families as I could in these strange times.’
Many parents have gotten in touch with Ashley to share sweet messages offering their thanks for giving them some time to themselves.