Education experts focus on how pupils can catch up


Summer schools and home learning plans are among the methods being considered to limit the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the education select committee has heard.

As part of an inquiry into the impact of the pandemic on the education sector, several social mobility experts have voiced their opinions on how pupils can catch up.

Summer schooling possibilities

The Department for Education is exploring the possibility of summer schools to support disadvantaged pupils, according to Natalie Perera, executive director at the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

However, children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has warned there is a rush to make it a reality as both schools and education providers will need time to prepare.

She added that any additional teaching will need to be “appealing”, while schools will need to work closely with tutoring providers to ensure that pupils can see the benefits of tuition.

The EPI has tabled the prospect of doubling pupil premium funding for one year to provide funding to enable pupils to catch up.

It is expected that the Department for Education will bid for additional funding as part of the July budget process – a set of emergency measures designed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

Home learning standards

The education select committee also heard of a need for common standards relating to home learning, to ensure that all schools are delivering adequate opportunities.

This was highlighted by Becky Francis, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, who said that the situation is now different to when teachers were first expected to implement elements of home working.

She recognised the risks and rushed processes that were common in the early stages of the pandemic, and has now called for a “minimum common standard that we encourage schools to build on ambitiously going forward”.

Guiding schools in the coming months would also enable them to be better prepared for the autumn term, so they can make appropriate plans for how to support all pupils.

Looking at the role of Ofsted

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has already said that the inspectorate will have a role to play in supporting the recovery, but it is not yet clear what that will look like.

Ms Longfield called for a focus on “catch-up and support for health and wellbeing, especially as the inspectorate has said it will not resume inspections in August, having suspended them at the onset of the pandemic.

“They [Ofsted] need to be part of this recovery, but a much more supportive role and really looking at how schools have responded,” she explained.

It was suggested that Ofsted could provide guidance on best practice for schools so that both headteachers and those in other teaching jobs can understand what types of approaches are needed to aid pupils.

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