Last updated: 18.02.14

Could virtual learning help alleviate teacher-student ratios after school?

Virtual learning may be key to addressing growing concerns over the current ratio of teachers to students in the England and Wales' primary and secondary schools, after several childcare groups criticised government plans that will allow one member of staff look after as many as 30 children in after-school clubs and activities.

Currently, schools must ensure that there are enough teachers to allow for a ratio of one staff member to every eight children after school. However, childcare minister Liz Truss announced that this will now be brought in line with ratios already in play for infant schools.

She said that the change in policy would remove a lot of bureaucracy facing schools, removing the need for staff hours to be altered and forms to be filled in "just because the clock struck four", according to the BBC.

However, fears have been expressed by several groups over what these changes will mean for children, particularly as the government also intends to relax the expectations placed on such activities as to how children are educated through breakfast and after-school clubs.

A spokeswoman said that ratios would be left for individual school heads to decide, but that the maximum ratio would be brought in line with teachers in Early Years Foundation Stage education, namely one to 30. What's more, staff will not always be teachers, as children will be undertaking a wide range of activities in these clubs, she added.

For those school that do end up scaling back teacher presence at breakfast and after-school clubs, providing children with supervised access to virtual learning resources online is one way that would allow schools to ensure that these sessions remain productive.

It would also be a great way to teach children about the internet, something that is increasingly looking to be addressed in the primary school curriculum as it comes to have an ever-greater role in people's personal and social lives from a very young age.