By Hazel Remeika, Programmes and Partnerships Manager for Education

All of us have had to adapt to a completely new way of life during lockdown. For many, that has meant taking on the role of teacher, while juggling the responsibilities of parenting and working from home full-time.

We’ve been doing our best, but sometimes it’s been a challenge to say the least. Who knew year three maths could be so hard?

Given how full our plates are, I’ve been floored by our Co-op Academy teachers who’ve been helping their students – and their families – navigate this tricky time.

All our academies have stayed open for vulnerable children and those of key workers throughout lockdown, but that hasn’t stopped them connecting with those not studying in the classroom.

Teacher Ruth Hopkins, from Co-op Academy Woodlands, decided to set up a Facebook group called Teacher’s Tips, which has since attracted over 10,000 members worldwide.

It connects teachers from different schools with thousands of parents – some from as far afield as Australia, Spain and Ireland – who are feeling overwhelmed and looking for resources, advice or creative ways to keep their child’s brain active.

And, more recently, the Co-op Academies Trust managed to secure 1,000 devices for students across our 25 schools and colleges who can’t access the internet from home. Giving those with exams coming up the best possible chance to achieve the grades they’ve been working so hard for.

A cut above

And our teachers haven’t just been helping with home-schooling. Colleagues at our Walkden, Manchester and Bebington academies have spent hours making visors for local surgeries, care homes and hospitals, using laser cutters and 3D printers.

They’ve also donated unused goggles from their science departments for use as PPE by key workers.

One of our science teachers at Co-op Academy Leeds has spent her own time working as a pharmacist to get patients on electronic registers. And a student at Co-op Academy Oakwood completed a 24hr bounce-a-thon – stopping only for toilet breaks, food and sleep – raising nearly £567 for the NHS, smashing her £50 target.

Co-op Academy Smithies Moor did an indoor three peaks challenge, too – climbing over four thousand flights of stairs – raising over £1k for the NHS and families who need support paying for school uniforms.

Proud to work for Co-op

When I reflect on these selfless acts, and how the business has responded throughout the pandemic, it makes me even more proud to work for Co-op.

From the Co-op Members Coronavirus Fund – which lets members donate their unspent 5% rewards to support food banks, bereaved families and frontline community causes – to connecting local volunteers with vulnerable customers through Co-operate.

As soon as schools closed, Co-op even stepped up with food vouchers for the students in our academies who receive free school meals. Because no child should go hungry because of the crisis. It doesn’t get more Co-op than that.

You can read more inspiring stories like these in the #LocalHeroes colleague magazine in food stores, funeral branches and online now.