Educating Yorkshire’s Mr Burton urges parents to ask for help with home learning

Matthew Burton shot to fame in 2013.

Matthew Burton
Matthew Burton

A headteacher who was one of the stars of the hit TV show Educating Yorkshire has urged parents to ask schools for help if they are struggling with home learning.

Matthew Burton, who is now headteacher at Thornhill Community Academy, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said he has seen home learning from the parents’ side, as well as the teachers’, as he has two primary school age children at home.

He said: “It’s different teaching other people’s children to teaching your own children. I’ve found that very much.

“I’ve loved it. I obviously love spending time with my own kids.”

But he told the PA news agency: “That’s not to say it’s not challenging, of course it is. But there’s myself and my wife and we make it work just like everyone in the country is making it work.”

He added: “There have been moments where I have thought ‘what do I do?’. But we’ll get there and we’ll keep getting there.”

Mr Burton said he battled with all the usual distractions available to his children including Horrid Henry, joking: “And Horrid Henry is not a good role model as far as I’m concerned.”

He said: “What is really important is that people just do their best – that’s all anybody will ever, ever ask.

“Nobody is asking for more than that. And, if you’re struggling with something, contact the school. Schools want to help. They will fall over themselves to support and help you with anything they possibly can.

“So, if you’re struggling, get on the phone, get on the email and ask the questions you need to ask because people want to help.”

Mr Burton said around 40 vulnerable children and children of key workers were in school each day at Thornhill and he is part of a rota of teachers who go into school on a daily basis.

He said the “digital divide” was a challenge for those learning at home but schools had introduced a range of measures to help.

“It’s a challenge because the digital divide is something that unquestionably is there,” he said. “Some children have iPads they’ve got for Christmas and whatever but a lot of children don’t have that sort of provision.

“And, If you have a multi-child household, if there’s one laptop, it could be the best laptop in the world but it still can’t access three lessons at once.”

Mr Burton said his school had responded to this with Government-provided laptops, others which have been donated as well as other “creative solutions”.

Asked about whether teachers should be vaccinated, Mr Burton said: “I think it is important to get schools back up and running as soon as as we can and the Government has said they want schools to reopen before anything else. And I completely agree with that.

“Everybody across the profession wants it not to be a stop-start process.

“Part of doing that is making sure that people are protected from the virus, isn’t it?”

Mr Burton became an overnight star in 2013 when, on the hit Channel 4 Educating Yorkshire programme, he helped student “Mushy” Musharaf Ashgar overcome his stammer.

He is currently working with anti-bacterial wipes manufacturer Uniwipe to launch a cleaning advice campaign for Yorkshire schools dealing with the challenges of the Covd-19 crisis.

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