Online translated lessons for Ukrainian refugee children

The lessons will be available translated into Ukrainian or Russian, as some refugee pupils will speak Russian as a first language.

11 March 2022

Online lessons will be made available to 100,000 refugee pupils as they transition to “life and safety” in the UK, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has announced.

Speaking at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference in Birmingham on Friday, he said: “We will continue to support Ukrainians in any way we can.

“I know schools are doing what they can to support their students make sense of what they are seeing.”

“And we are working with schools to ensure that the tens of thousands of Ukrainian children we will welcome to our shores will have a place in our education system.

“To support schools’ efforts, I’m delighted to announce that Oak National Academy has today rolled out an auto-translate function across all 10,000 of its online lessons.

“This will allow Ukrainian children arriving in the UK to access education in their native language as they transition into life and safety in the UK.”

The lessons will be available translated into Ukrainian or Russian, as some refugee pupils will speak Russian as a first language.

On Wednesday, Mr Zahawi said: “What you are seeing now is a surge in our capability to take more Ukrainians.

“I can tell you in my own department in education, I have a team that’s already making plans for a capacity of 100,000 children that we will take into our schools.

“The family reunion route will be a couple of hundred thousand people coming through and then the humanitarian route which Michael Gove will outline in the next few days, will be uncapped.”

The online classroom has developed new functions guiding pupils through automatically translated versions of its lessons.

Pupils will be able to access quizzes, video lessons with translated subtitles and worksheets.

The translation function will build on earlier work translating the online lessons into common languages other than English spoken in UK schools, such as Urdu and Polish.

Oak National said: “The prototype was brought forward following the invasion of Ukraine which has led to widespread school closures and displacement of hundreds of thousands of children internally and to neighbouring countries.”

The UK will shortly welcome up to 200,000 Ukrainian refugees with a large number of them expected to be school-aged children, Oak National said.

Matt Hood, principal of Oak National Academy, said:  “It is tragic that the lives of so many children have been blighted by this horrific invasion.

“The work we have done to make Oak’s lessons available in Ukrainian is only a tiny contribution to this crisis, and pales in comparison to the international effort needed to ensure the safety of families fleeing  violence.

“We hope that for Ukrainian children who will be arriving shortly in the UK , it’s a tool that may help them re-establish some sort of routine once they reach safety.”

He added that the automated translation meant the lessons would not “be perfect” and were not an attempt to align with the Ukrainian curriculum or to replace Ukraine’s own work providing remote education.

“Oak has been exploring whether our lessons can be translated into the common languages spoken by pupils in English schools for whom English is not their first language but, with the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, we have pushed this work forward as rapidly as possible.”

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