Coronavirus: Stars take part in BBC lockdown learning scheme


Footballer Sergio Aguero, Ed Balls and Professor Brian Cox are also involved in the virtual learning initiative.

Launched on the day children were due to return to school, the scheme offers 14 weeks of curriculum-based learning.

The programme is the biggest education offering in the BBC’s history.

“We said the BBC would be there for people through this crisis and we meant it,” said Alice Webb, director of BBC Children’s and Education.

“We’re proud that the BBC can bring together so many people to offer such a wide-ranging package of support to help children and parents right across the UK at such a challenging time.”

UK schools have been closed to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers since 20 March to curb the spread of Covid-19, and the two-week Easter holiday has just finished.

The programme includes BBC Bitesize Daily, airing on BBC iPlayer and the BBC red button, which will feature six 20-minute programmes each day aimed at different age groups.

One Direction star

There will also be a maths and English lesson every day for different age groups, daily education podcasts and programmes on BBC Four on weekday evenings to support GCSE and A-level courses.

Doctor Who actress Jodie Whittaker will be dropping in on Bitesize Daily lessons, while a host of stars will read books aimed at both primary and secondary age children.

They include singer Mabel, Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse, One Direction member Liam Payne and Countryfile presenter Anita Rani.

Celebrities leading lessons or making appearances include:

  • Manchester City footballer Sergio Aguero, who will help youngsters learn to count in Spanish
  • Sir David Attenborough, who will look at geography topics such as oceans and mapping the world
  • Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who will deliver a maths class for 11 to 14-year-olds
  • Professor Brian Cox, who will teach science topics such as force, the solar system and gravity
  • EastEnders actor Danny Dyer, who will give a history class for five to seven-year-olds on Henry VIII

Dyer found out he had royal ancestry in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

More than 200 teachers and education specialists have helped develop the programme, which the BBC announced earlier this month.

Launching the scheme on Monday, BBC director general Tony Hall praised the “extraordinary teamwork” underpinning the venture.

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