Headteachers in Hampshire say bid for summer school would be 'challenging' for pupils and staff

RUNNING summer catch-up classes at schools will be a ‘challenge,’ education leaders have told The News.

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 5:04 pm

Government said it will hand secondary schools an extra £22,000 on average and primaries £6,000 as part of a £200m package.

Headteachers will be free to spend the cash how they see fit, including on staff overtime.

The funding is part of the education recovery programme announced by Boris Johnson on Wednesday.

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Oaklands Headteacher Matthew Quinn with pupils on A-level results day in 2018. Picture: Malcolm Wells (190815-6280)

Matthew Quinn, headteacher at Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville, said a summer offer would be ‘important’ to getting pupils ready for classes.

But he added: ‘This will also be challenging as pupils have all had different experiences with their education.

‘Year 7s will have different learning experiences as they will be coming up from Year 6 at different schools.

‘It will require a lot of careful planning.’

He added: ‘We will have to find a workforce - teachers have been working extremely hard and want to take a break.

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‘We would like to work on the wellbeing and resocialisation of pupils by offering sports and team building activities, but if social distancing still needs to be maintained during the summer, this will be challenging.

‘We are still in discussion about summer schools - the critical challenge will be finding the additional staff, coaches and mentors.

‘We are also considering the sequencing of learning for pupils when they return in September, which is going to take some time.’

Simon Harrison, headteacher of Crofton School in Stubbington, said summer school would be good if it were for sports or activities.

But he added: ‘The academic aspect of summer school would be more difficult - teachers need that break, so it would be difficult to find the workforce.

‘The extra funding doesn’t break down to very much money for each school, but any extra funding is very welcome.’

He said it was frustrating the extra cash was split into different pots, restricting how it could be used.

Education cabinet member at Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Suzy Horton, said the cash will not result in a ‘seismic’ change.

She added it was a ‘laudable aim’ to target help for disadvantaged children but warned she was ‘disappointed’ in the overall education recovery programme.

This is because it focuses on what she said was a ‘bonkers’ approach by expanding one-to-one and small group tutoring programmes.

‘As a gut feel to an education recovery package, to me it’s really depressing - it’s all about one-to-one small group tutoring, focus on maths and English,’ she said.

‘It’s all really heavy and I actually think there’s an opportunity to not ignore this disadvantage that’s occurred over the last year but how do we bring children back to learn, to enjoy school again?

‘We’ve got children who have been isolating for the best part of a year and we put them on one-to-one programmes - it’s bonkers.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said summer school funding was not enough. He said: ‘The new funding for summer schools will not make up for the learning and time with friends that children have lost.

‘Teachers, students and parents would not have to be forced into this position had the government handled this crisis better.’

The Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust, which runs two secondaries, two primaries and a specialist school, said it had been using government catch-up cash for pupils since September.

A statement added: ‘We have yet to decide how to best implement catch-up during the summer holidays, using additional funding provided by the government.

‘Once our pupils will return, and we are aware of the monies available, we will be in a position to ascertain how to best implement systems that address potential gaps in pupils’ learning.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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