SCHOOLS are shut across the country and there has been a frantic rush among parents to stock up on home schooling supplies, here is how to find the best deals and even get free printing.
The UK has entered its third national lockdown amid rising coronavirus cases.
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Schools have been closed across the country, meaning parents must stock up on supplies for remote learningCredit: Alamy Live News
Schools will stay open only to vulnerable children and the offspring of key workers until at least mid-February.
Instead, lessons have been moved online for everyone else or work is being sent to complete and upload to return to their teachers each day.
That is a lot of extra work for parents, especially if you are also doing your actual day job at the same time.
Your child may need a device to work on and supplies such as pencils and notepads plus there may be documents that have to be printed on a daily basis.
How to protect yourself while online shopping
- GUT FEELING: Stick to popular retailers such as Amazon, Currys and Argos.
If you are looking at less well known sites, trust your instinct. Do not shop anywhere that looks unprofessional, has odd pop-ups or is selling items at prices that seem too good to be true.
- FAKE NEWS: Do not reveal any unnecessary personal information. All you need to give is your name, address and payment details.
Avoid clicking on links on emails. Phishing scams can stem from messages that seem legitimate, but send you to bogus sites that collect information to steal your identity.
Instead, type the URL directly into the search bar.
- NOT SO SMART: Use your computer instead of your mobile. Most phones do not have anti-virus software, and it is harder to tell whether shortened URLs used on social media are legitimate.
Also, wait until you are home and on a password-protected wifi network as public hotspots do not protect your data. Regularly update your browser to boost your security.
- HACKED OFF: Using the same password for every retailer you sign up for may seem like the easy option but it makes hackers’ job easy.
Use complicated passwords, make them different for each site and change them every few months.
- ADDRESS IT: Check that the website you are using has HTTPS in the URL, as the “S” indicates that the way your information is being sent is secure. Another sign of a secure site is a small padlock on the screen.
It is not so easy to just pop to the shops now to pick up school supplies especially if you want to minimise contact with others or are unable to get out during already reduced opening hours.
Many of the most-needed home schooling items can be ordered online.
We have highlighted some of the best deals we can find for the most common home schooling items.
Asus Chromebook C223na, £202.94 – buy now
Support your child’s online learning with an Asus laptopCredit: VERY
Many schools have switched to live lessons through Zoom, Teams or Google Hangouts.
Not everyone has a spare device such as a smartphone or laptop that their child can access their lessons on, especially if parents are also working from home
This may mean splashing out on a laptop so they or you can complete their work.
One popular low-cost model is the Asus Chromebook C223na.
It has an 11.6” screen and 4GB of memory.
That’s not lots of storage but is enough if you just need your child to login to online lessons.
It is listed for £329.35 on OfficeStationery.co.uk or you can get it for more than £100 cheaper from Very at £202.94 including delivery with Very.
Six HB Pencils with Erasers £3.99- buy now
Stock up on ypur pencil suppliesCredit: The Works
Avoid last minute scrambles for pencils and rubbers by ensuring your child has their stationery ready.
You can get a 12-piece pencil and eraser set with different themed toppers from TheWorks for £3.99 including delivery.
The same item is currently being listed on eBay for £4.83.
Silvine Exercise Book pack of 10, £3.89 – buy now
Keep your child’s work organised using exercise booksCredit: Ryman
Your children’s usual exercise books may still be at school and you can keep their work organised by ordering your own rather than getting them to complete sentences or sums on scrap pieces of paper.
Ryman offers an 80-page lined paper exercise book for £1.09 with a £3.95 delivery charge or you can get a pack of 10 on Amazon for £3.89.
Tesco Basic A4 paper 500 sheets – buy now
Tesco shoppers can stock up on paper with their food deliveryCredit: Tesco
The amount of printing for lessons can feel like it will never end so make sure you aren’t overpaying for your paper.
You can get 500 sheets of plain white printer paper for £3 at Wilko or it is offering two packs for £5.
Alternatively, Tesco shoppers could get a pack for £2.85.
Canon PIXMA TS5150 Wireless Inkjet Printer, £95.77 – buy now
Print wirelessly with this low-cost Canon printerCredit: Cartridge World
Many parents are spending their evenings printing out schoolwork for their children to work from the next day.
You may need to print timetables, equations or exercises for your child to complete.
One of the most popular printers, according to PriceSpy, is the Canon PIXMA TS5150 Wireless Inkjet Printer.
This is a colour printer and can connect wirelessly to your computer or smartphone to print documents.
It also has a scanner and photocopier.
Argos lists the printer for £59.99 but is currently out of stock.
It can cost as much as £119.97 on Amazon but we found it for £95.77 on Cartridge World.
HP 302 ink cartridge, £15.87 – buy now
We’ve found the best deal on printer ink Credit: Amazon
Printer ink is pricey at the best of times and you are likely to get through a lot of it when printing worksheets or maths equations so your children can follow along with remote learning or complete their tasks.
The type of ink you need will depend on your printer but it is also important to shop around as prices can vary.
For example, we found a popular colour HP 302 ink cartridge for as much as £25.93 on Cartridge World, but you could get it for £15.87 if you are a member of Amazon Prime.
The cartridge is suitable for use with HP Envy, Officejet and Deskjet models.
Amazon isn’t always cheaper though.
A multipack Canon PG-540 ink cartridge can be purchased on Amazon for £36.89 or is £8.57 cheaper at £28.32 on eBuyer.
It can be used for Canon printer models such as the Pixma and Monstres Academy.
Epson printer users can also sign up for its ReadyPrint subscription service which links to your device to deliver ink to your door before it runs out.
Prices start at £1.29 a month for delivery.
Several businesses are offering support to local parents who are home schooling.
Printing company The Print Hive in Weston Super Mare is offering free printing of school work. You can email [email protected] for local collection.
Estate agency brand Winkworth is also offering to print and copy documents for parents across its UK branches.
You can email your local branch and arrange for a time to send or bring documents. They will then be left at the door in a sealed bag. Staff will be wearing masks and are sanitising regularly.
Branches in Clapham, Kennington, Pimlico, Fulham, South Kensington, Palmers Green, New Cross, Forest Hill, Weybridge, Dartmouth and Torbay in Devon are currently offering this service.
Find your local Winkworth office or check their social media to find the best email to arrange for items to be printed.
Estate agent Winkworth is offering to print school work for free
There are also lots of online resources if your school isn’t providing live learning and you want to boost your child’s education.
Busy Things provides 1,000 online games and activities for nursery and primary school age children covering maths, English, phonics, geography, history and coding.
It is charging just £1 during the school closures.
Gaming company Kuato Studios, has also produced a Marvel Hero Tales educational game that is free for a limited period during lockdown and helps build storytelling and communication skills with superheroes such as SpiderMan.
Struggling families can also get free BT WiFi vouchers so children can learn online at home.
Here is how to apply for free school meals for your children.
It follows public anger and the launch of an investigation into a free school meals supplier after social media posts showed how small the packages were.