Schools in Leeds set to open over the summer holidays to help students catch up on lost lockdown learning

Suggestions that schools could receive funding to open during the summer holidays to allow pupils to catch up has been welcomed by one of the city's leading academy trusts.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 6:00 am

The GORSE Academies Trust, which has 11 schools in the Leeds area, including five secondary schools and an 11 to 16 alternative provision - said the government intervention would allow schools to focus on the areas that students most needed help with.

It comes after confirmation this week that schools would re-open to all pupils on March 8 and a roadmap out of lockdown was revealed by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister has pledged an extra £400m of funding - on top of the £300m announced in January - as part of its education recovery plan following months of school closures.

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Attention has now turned to how to help pupils catch up at school post lockdown.

Summer classes will be introduced for pupils who need it the most, such as incoming Year 7 pupils, while one-to-one and small group tutoring schemes will be expanded.

Some secondary school children have lost more than two months' worth of learning, according to a Government report which states that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers may have widened in the pandemic.

Researchers said the findings show that pupil catch-up interventions need to be "heavily targeted at the poorest pupils".

The GORSE Trust specialises in changing the prospects of young people in some of the most deprived areas.

Leeds City Council's education spokesperson, Coun Jonathan Pryor.

Leanne Griffiths, Executive Principal for 11-16, said: "We are delighted that the Government have recognised the importance of supporting students, their families and schools with addressing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are also pleased that, through the allocated additional funding, the Government have ensured that schools have the flexibility to determine the best use of the funding for their individual contexts; this will assist schools in offering impactful support and intervention which genuinely allows students to spend time focusing upon the areas that they specifically need support with.

"It is through a carefully considered, intelligent approach that puts students, their families and members of staff’s wellbeing at the fore that students will be supported in having the resilience needed to make significant gains in their learning.

"At The GORSE Academies Trust we always put our students’ individual needs first and we are looking forward to being able to make exceptional use of this welcomed additional funding to ensure all students, including those most affected by the pandemic, are able to feel confident that they have a sound grasp of the knowledge, skills and understanding needed for the next stage of their education."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson added: "Our package of measures will deliver vital support to the children and young people who need it most, making sure everyone has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential no matter their background."

Education leaders called the package of measures "a promising start", but warned recovery cannot happen in a single summer and in Leeds, education leader, Coun Jonathan Pryor was cautious as to how the scheme would operate but was keen to get more information from the government.

The executive member for Learning, Skills, Employment & Equality said: "We are committed to supporting young people to make up lost learning, and we await further detail of what the goverment is offering and with what conditions."

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