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A little over a week ago, Tony Hall announced the “biggest push on education in the BBC’s history” including a plan to enhance our free online study support service BBC Bitesize.

In the space of a few short weeks, Covid-19 has had a major impact on the way we all live our lives. Entering this period of national lockdown has inevitably changed the way we work, communicate, shop and exercise. People across the country are turning to digital technologies like never before; the ultimate digital disruptor.

With schools across the UK closed, the normal systems we all rely upon to educate our children day-in/day-out have been put under enormous strain too. Teachers are having to work at a distance — many for the first time, and without having had time to adapt lessons and strategies. Parents have become teaching assistants overnight, and are juggling lessons from the kitchen table, alongside caring responsibilities, and in many cases also now having to work from home.

Increased demand for home schooling

Since schools closed, we’ve been working to help parents and learners with the challenge of home schooling.

BBC Bitesize is designed to help students around the UK with learning, revision and homework.

For over 20 years it has complemented what schools and teachers do by providing support for learners aged 5 to 16+, across a wide range of school subjects. It also supports children and young people’s wellbeing and career choices.

In the 2 weeks preceding the Easter holidays, we’ve seen a huge new demand for home schooling resources.

We’re pleased to have been serving over 1 million unique visitors each weekday with content mainly from our existing Bitesize ‘Learn & Revise’ offer.

Daily online lessons

From 20th April 2020 we’ll begin adding new content to BBC Bitesize in the form of special daily lessons in English, Maths and other core subjects. Our brand new offer has been specially designed with home schooling in mind.

Lessons will bring together videos, quizzes, games and activities from Bitesize, elsewhere around the BBC, and from selected educational partners too.

While my editorial colleagues are (extremely) busy co-ordinating the delivery of ~150 lessons a week, the Bitesize product team have been working hard to make it easy for parents and students to navigate all of this new content.

We know how important it is that our users can quickly find resources relevant to their age-range and ability-level. Moving to this daily cadence and having parents take a more active role means that we’ve had to come up with some new ways to navigate around. Luckily we have standard website components and UI patterns to speed us along the way.

Elsewhere around the BBC

Meanwhile, sets are being designed, and scripts and schedules written for the various TV and Radio programmes which the BBC is planning to broadcast throughout the Summer Term too.

It’s pretty exciting to know that Bitesize will be on Red Button, BBC FOUR, BBC Scotland, S4C, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

We’re turning the Bitesize homepage into a destination where you can find information about all of these services.
It’s quite a challenge to showcase this breath of offer simply — but one which our designers and engineers have accepted gladly.

Top team

Saying that delivering daily lessons during lockdown has been ‘ambitious’ — would be quite an understatement. 4 weeks ago, with the rest of the country, BBC Children’s and Education teams became remote workers overnight. Bitesize daily is being built in spare rooms, at kitchen tables and on the sofa (but only when we can convince our kids to take a break from the games console).

We’re putting ‘lean’ product development through its paces. We’re remaining focussed, we’re talking a lot, and importantly, we’re trusting our brilliant people to do their thing.

It really helps to have the support of management, colleagues around the BBC, our families, organisational partners and of course each other.

We’ll continue to develop in the coming months to make sure there’s an even greater range of resources available to parents and kids, as we learn more about the best way to educate our kids as the UK responds to Coronavirus.

Visit the BBC Bitesize website to find the latest daily lessons (starts 20th Apr 2020).

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