ROBOTS have been coming to the rescue of district pupils unable to attend school.
A trial of the AV1 robots began just before the pandemic with seven purchased by Warwickshire County Council.
And due to their success, schools including St John’s Academy in Kenilworth and Southam College are now investing in their own distance learning avatars.
The robots make it possible for children and young people who cannot attend school due to sickness or physical or mental health issues to take part in lessons via an app on their phone or tablet.
In practice, the AV1 robot is an app-linked device fitted with a camera, speaker and microphone, that opens a two-way audio and one-way visual channel between the student and their classmates, allowing them to learn alongside their peers, and maintain social contact with their friends, without obliging them to appear on camera themselves.
The robots are carried from lesson to lesson by a classmate. Some children in primary schools have even taken the robot into the playground or to lunch, so their classmates can be involved in all elements of the school day.
WCC’s education spokesperson Coun Kam Kaur said: “It’s great to be able to make the best use of technology to support students who are unable to attend school due to special educational or medical needs. By using the robots, our students have been able to access learning, communicate more effectively and be fully included in the school day without needing to be on site.
“The results we have seen have been impressive and have shown how important the use of technology can be in our schools to help students stay connected to their class, teacher, and friends.
“Thanks to the success of the pilot, several schools across the county are now using the robots and more have signed up or have invested in their own. By trialling this forward-thinking technology, Warwickshire is leading the way reinforcing the county’s commitment to providing an inclusive education for all children and young people.”
With around 72,000 children in the UK estimated to be out of school due to long-term illness in a typical year, AV1 has the potential to have a major benefit to hundreds of thousands of young lives.
Since being introduced, 14 schools in Warwickshire have made use of the technology to support students with long or short-term illness.