A new national helpline for parents and carers will provide personalised support and advice on home learning to support pupils until schools re-open.

StarLine is a free telephone helpline which offers parents and carers personalised advice and support from a team of qualified teachers, education and parenting experts.

The essential closure of schools for the majority of pupils across the country has led to many families educating their children at home. This responsibility, combined with home working and caring for loved ones, has stretched some families to breaking point. StarLine, which is a sector-led initiative supported by voluntary sector partners and the Department for Education, aims to take some of that burden away by providing families with empathy, reassurance and practical advice to support home learning. StarLine is available to all parents and carers of school children nationwide.

StarLine’s team of education and parenting experts will share tips, techniques and resources to help young people continue their learning while schools are closed, and to support family wellbeing. Parents and carers will be guided to help their children create regular routines and study habits, offering practical steps to take and access to quality resources. Parents phoning the helpline may require support with a specific topic, such as algebra or English, or simply be looking for tips about how to structure the day, deal with difficult behaviour or manage the learning of several children.

StarLine is open six days a week and covers all areas of the curriculum across all phases of education. In addition to qualified teachers, callers can speak to experienced education and parenting experts who can provide support and advice on behaviour, wellbeing and help for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities. Callers will be asked to provide details of their enquiry so that they can be passed to an expert with the appropriate knowledge and experience. All calls will be confidential.

A group of partners, including Star Academies, Mumsnet, Oak National Academy, the Confederation of School Trusts, Triple P UK, United Learning and a number of academy trusts, have come together to establish StarLine as part of their civic response to the coronavirus pandemic. As well as sharing their expertise, all partners have pledged resources to the project, including a team of voluntary teachers, education and parenting specialists who will provide telephone support to parents across the country.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“StarLine represents another inspiring example of teachers and education experts working together to share their knowledge, resources and expertise with schools and families across the country. Following the launch of Oak National Academy, the publication of guidance for parents and a collection of high quality resources, and the Government’s commitment to provide laptops and tablets for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, this is a welcome addition to the support available to help children learn from home.”

Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, Chief Executive of Star Academies, said:

“We understand that this is a time of additional pressure for many parents and carers. The combination of working from home, caring for our loved ones and trying to educate our children is a difficult juggling act. Together with our partners, we want to use our educational expertise to support parents and carers who are grappling with the challenge of trying to maintain their children’s learning. We’re proud to support this sector-led initiative to give parents a friendly and caring specialist to turn to when they need it most.”

Mumsnet founder and CEO Justine Roberts said:

“Lockdown learning has been a huge adjustment for all families, and for some it’s extremely challenging. On our forums we’re seeing thousands of discussions, covering everything from anxiety about the impacts on GCSE and A Level pupils, or granular questions about Key Stage 1 literacy, to worries about children’s socialisation and mental health and frustration about having to make one laptop stretch between three kids. There’s no doubt that anxiety and stress are high in the mix, and some reassuring input from expert educators will be really valuable to frazzled and frantic parents.”

Leora Cruddas, Chief Executive of the Confederation of School Trusts, said:

“For many parents and guardians, this is an anxious time as they support their children’s education in their homes. A national helpline to support parents with home learning is a very welcome contribution to our national response to the coronavirus, and one that is welcomed by the Confederation of School Trusts.”

Matt Hood, Principal at Oak National Academy, said:

“‘This is another fantastic example of the education sector working together to ensure that every pupil gets the best possible education at home. Directly supporting parents is an essential part of this work. I know StarLine will make a huge difference to families across the country.”

Matt Buttery, Chief Executive of Triple P UK, disseminator of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program®, said:

“We are delighted to contribute to the national effort and support this vitally important initiative. Now more than ever parents need to be able to access high-quality, personalised and timely advice to provide a supportive home environment for their children. The current situation is far from easy but we and our StarLine partners are here to help reduce stress and anxiety, and to provide strategies so families cope as well as possible.”

StarLine is available to parents and carers of pupils from all schools nationwide. Free, confidential advice is available six days a week by phoning the StarLine team on 0330 313 9162. For more information visit www.starline.org.uk