22nd June 2020
This week has bought significant leaps forward in the Government’s plans to close the growing attainment gap between disadvantaged and other pupils. We wrote about some of the ways we anticipated help might be made available last week and there was some discussion around offering children Summer Schools. The government have now clarified how they plan to help pupils that may have fallen behind during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The measures include:
Some education professionals have already come out and stated that the money on offer is only a fraction of the amount that would be required to bring all pupils up to their expected level of attainment and we haven’t got details yet on how the money will be allocated or what the guidelines for spending it will be. Hopefully, this information will be released quickly so that schools can get onto to planning how to identify and to assist pupils.
Early years settings and 16-19 year old education have not been mentioned in the most recently released plans – plans for managing gaps in higher education provision over the lockdown will hopefully be announced at a later date.
For Primary and Secondary schools, this pledge will come as a welcome relief from wondering how to assist pupils that have fallen behind whilst also managing the learning of children that have been able to keep up with school work during the lockdown. The fund equates to around £91 per pupil, although the preliminary guidance does state that schools will have the autonomy to decide how funds are spent.
These are issues that aren’t going to go away – we know that many schools are already putting extra time and resources into planning lessons for year groups with levels of attainment that vary more than usual. Many have also been working remotely with pupils to mitigate the potential for a wide gap in learning between the children of key workers, who have continued to attend school and those who have remained at home. Remote learning resources have been specific to schools and not standardised, so there is likely to be huge variation from region to region and even from school to school.
We know that many schools have struggled to offer comprehensive at-home learning solutions to pupils. With limited resources, reduced staff and managing new timetables and procedures, teachers have been under pressure since the start of lockdown. We know that around 700,000 pupils who have been affected by school closures will have had no access to the internet or a home computer – these pupils are going to be the ones more severely affected and will need to be identified quickly and plans devised to help them to prevent the COVID lockdown having a significant and long term impact of their education and future.
The program will be delivered by the EEF, an independent charity whose aim is to remove the link between low-income families and academic success. The charity has funded work across the world to improve the lives of children and has recently released an interesting study into reducing the impact of COVID-19 school closures in the UK. Studies in conjunction with the Sutton Trust have shown that with individual and group tuition is the best way to close the gap between students and have published a wide amount of research into the subject. There is also newly released guidance on how schools can utilise the fund to support pupils – it’s available here.
We are keeping up to date with the changing situation and will continue to update our teachers and colleagues as more information become available.
It’s been announced by the Education secretary that Ofsted will be tasked with monitoring how schools spend their allocated funding. Read more on how this will affect schools here.
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