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Friday, April 16, 2021

Pupils could be offered summer classes to catch up on missed lessons

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Children could be invited to take part in summer schools under plans to help them catch up on months of missed education.

Ministers are looking at whether to provide funding for catch-up classes over the summer holidays aimed at those children who have fallen furthest behind, the Mail understands.

Most catch-up funding so far has gone to pay for one-to-one or small group tutoring. 

Children could be invited to take part in summer schools under plans to help them catch up on months of missed education. Children are seen learning from home

Children could be invited to take part in summer schools under plans to help them catch up on months of missed education. Children are seen learning from home

But Whitehall sources said officials were examining whether a model used by some Harris Academy schools to offer half-day classes last summer could be deployed more widely. The Harris Federation is a trust of 48 schools in London.

Any move to require teachers to work during the summer is likely to meet resistance from unions.

The proposal emerged as it was revealed that next month the Department for Education now expects all schools to close completely during half-term, with even most children of key workers asked to stay at home.

Yesterday Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield warned that it could take some children up to five years to catch up the schooling lost in the pandemic.

Boris Johnson pledged a further £300million in catch-up funding for schools on Wednesday, when he announced that classrooms would stay shut to most pupils until at least March 8. But, in an interview with the Spectator magazine, Mrs Longfield said more support would be needed.

The proposal emerged as it was revealed that next month the Department for Education now expects all schools to close completely during half-term, with even most children of key workers asked to stay at home

The proposal emerged as it was revealed that next month the Department for Education now expects all schools to close completely during half-term, with even most children of key workers asked to stay at home

She added that there would be a cohort of children who will need support for the next three to five years ‘both in learning but also in that wider socialisation and confidence in their lives’. 

She added: ‘Yes, there’s a catch-up programme, yes there’s some mental health support coming. But it’s not on the scale of the emergency that we’re talking about.’

Government sources acknowledge they face a huge task in helping pupils catch up. Classrooms across England were closed for months during the first lockdown last year and many children faced serious disruption during the autumn. Schools had to close again at the start of this month, with only the children of key workers encouraged to attend.

During the original lockdown last year, they continued working through the Easter holidays to provide classes for the children of key workers. But education sources said they were expected to close their doors completely during half-term next month.

A source said that, unlike last year, parents had other childcare options. Although schools will be encouraged to offer ‘some cover’ in emergency cases, most children will be expected to stay at home.

‘Schools need a break,’ the source said. ‘Working parents would normally expect to have their children over school holidays.’ Today a report says children should be allowed to do the entire academic year again. The study by the Education Policy Institute think-tank warns teacher assessment of exam grades could mask serious learning losses.

The Education Department spokesman it was ‘working closely with Ofqual and the sector on arrangements to make sure young people can receive a grade that reflects their hard work.’

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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