Covid lockdown teacher Holly King-Mand meets Boris Johnson

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image copyrightNo 10 Downing Street
image captionTeacher Holly King-Mand gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson advice on keeping an audience engaged

An English teacher whose free online lessons helped thousands of children during lockdown has been recognised for her work by the prime minister.

Holly King-Mand, 37, of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, began giving daily lessons and then online workshops when teaching was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She and other educators were invited to a reception hosted by Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street on Monday.

It was "a great honour", she said.

Mrs King-Mand had been on maternity leave and was yet to return to classroom teaching when the first lockdown happened.

She began hosting free 30-minute lessons on Facebook, aimed at Key Stage 2 and 3 levels (ages seven to 14), to support parents home-schooling their children.

image copyrightHolly King-Mand

The popularity of her classes has seen her initial 74 Facebook followers rise to about 65,000 across three social media platforms.

Mrs King-Mand and 19 other educators were recognised for their innovative work during the pandemic at a reception at No 10.

"It was wonderful and a great honour," Mrs King-Mand said.

She said Mr Johnson expressed surprise at the number of followers she had amassed on social media.

"He asked me how I managed to keep the children engaged and amused, and asked for tips on how he might do the same with the cabinet."

image copyrightHolly King-Mand
image captionAn invitation arrived from the prime minister's office

Although Mrs King-Mand still posts free lessons on YouTube, she has since launched her own business - Holly's Classroom - where online lessons on subjects ranging from grammar to creative writing can be booked for a fee.

"From September I will be offering free places on my five-week courses for children in receipt of Pupil Premium (usually those from disadvantages backgrounds)," she said.

image copyrightHolly King-Mand
image captionBeing invited to the reception was "wonderful", she said

"This is in keeping with my belief that a love of learning and of literature is for everyone - my classes are very accessible.

"It's been two years since I taught in a physical classroom and I really thought I would miss the interaction, but you really can build up a wonderful relationship this way, both with students and their parents," she added.

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