The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the learning journey of all students, but has disproportionally effected those for whom families are least able to support them, or who may be in challenging conditions less able to access our online learning programme.
In addition, all students have missed out on some experiences, especially those in practical subjects, extra-curricular activities and educational visits due to learning in lockdown, as well as a timetable which is not exactly comparable to being physically in school due to reduced teacher interventions.
We believe that there is no easy fix for this lost time but that this will require sustained interventions and curriculum changes over a number of years.
One of the most important areas will be the accurate assessment of gaps in students’ knowledge. To facilitate this, on return we will be asking all students to undertake GL Assessment Tests in English, Maths and Science which will provide us with a question-level analysis to provide targeted interventions. For Year 6 students entering the Academy without SATs results, we will administer the CATs tests. Some funds are used to purchase these examinations with regular re-examination to show progress.
There will be some direct instruction to students after or before school in the form of catch up classes. These will take different forms. There will be subject-based catch-up sessions where specific aspects of missed learning will be delivered by our own or specially employed staff. There will be individual or small group tuition from accredited providers of the National Tutoring Programme. Catch-up classes will be specifically for experiences which could not be undertaken during lockdown or areas where there is an identified need across a large cohort, for example, practical science skills.
Individual and small group tutoring will focus on the individuals who have fallen the furthest behind and need as much individual attention as possible. A substantial amount of catch up funds will go to providing these services and enhancing our staffing to provide additional classes.
Some of this provision will be after school, some remotely, in students’ homes. We also intend to run a summer school for our students which will provide additional time to support COVID catch up and there are funds for this for all Year 6 students who will be joining us this year.
One area where we are able to provide additional support is in the area of home learning resources. We have invested in Century Learning which identifies gaps in learning and provides tasks that both challenge and support students based on individual gaps in learning. From this we will be encouraging regular sessions as part of students home learning.
We have also invested in myON which provides access to an online library of 120,000 books for students to encourage their reading at home and ensure no students are without reading material. Some funding goes to the licencing for these projects.
One of the groups of students who have the most potential to need further support are those who are identified as Most Able. Without intervention and support they may not achieve the top grades they deserve due to missing out on many learning and enrichment opportunities. We will be investing in a Most Able Co-ordinator Post to signpost and provide opportunities to these students, in addition to monitoring their progress.
Lockdown has been a difficult time for students and families. Nationally we see an increase in the number of students who have new or exacerbated mental health challenges caused by extended periods of lockdown. We intend to use some of the funds to support additional mentoring for students and to ensure our staff have received appropriate training on bereavement, mental health first aid and spotting the signs of mental health problems. We also have a Wellbeing Site which we have developed during lockdown and will look to expand these opportunities upon our return to the Academy.