TEACHERS, pupils and people willing to help the education system during the coronavirus crisis in West Somerset have been brought together through the power of social media and community spirit.

Schools across the UK closed, with the exception of skeleton staff helping to teach the children of key workers defined by the government such as NHS staff or emergency services.

Minehead's Shonie Millward, who has worked in education for nearly a decade and is an administrator on a number of Facebook community groups, said she saw numerous posts from worried parents and thought a free-to-access forum for sharing high quality educational materials and activities would prove useful.

She set up the Minehead Community Homeschool Helpers group on Facebook, which although in its infancy, has more than 100 members, including 10 teachers.

"The teachers within the group are admins, and soon we will have a list of each teacher and what they specialise in put together," Shonie explains.

"As the teacher-base grows, I want us to be able to offer Somerset-specific content when possible, so as to increase the understanding of the area we all live in."

Shonie said she had been blown away by the amount of messages she had received from parents and teachers alike, voicing concerns for their children and offering their services to the group.

"Everything is very organic at the moment, I'm waiting to see how it develops." Shonie said.

"I'd love to see if we can can end up offering original video content from teachers, and other useful things like marking work and giving personalised support.

"This has already begun to happen, with Mark Stothard offering free Photography assistance via virtual classroom through the group."    

Shonie says she wants to push the idea that once the coronavirus crisis eases, as a society we don't go 'back to normal' but instead go 'back to better'.

"The improvements in people's behaviour and approach to problems that we're seeing cannot possibly be forgotten," she said.

"I want to see parents continue to engage with their children's education at a deeper and more involved level. 

"I want to see students appreciating their local environment, heritage and culture more. 

"It strikes me that by socially distancing ourselves, we are actually coming closer together at an ideological level, realising that no matter our politics, we are all similar enough to get on, and we all want the best for our own. I don't want to lose that when isolation stops."