Summer provision must not risk overwhelming teachers, chiefs say

Catch-up lessons for pupils impacted by the coronavirus pandemic must not risk teachers being overwhelmed, education chiefs said today.

Secondary schools will be asked to consider delivering summer schools as part of efforts to help pupils catch up with work missed during the crisis.

It means summer breaks could be shortened for pupils and staff, while ministers are also examining the possibility of extending school days.

The majority of pupils have missed several months of face-to-face teaching since the first lockdown started last March.

Wolverhampton Council’s education chief, Councillor Mike Hardacre, said it would be wrong if the plans resulted in teachers losing their summer holidays.

“There can be no doubt that children’s absence from school because of the coronavirus epidemic has caused huge problems, particularly for the disadvantaged,” he said.

“Wolverhampton has spent years making sure that its children are up to speed and level with national progress. No one wants to see that improvement lost.

“We are however, very well aware of the difficult position that teachers and schools have been put in, in trying to do two things at once with children both inside school, and children who they have been trying to work with electronically.

“It is important that we get children into school and that they are able to begin accelerated learning in the time that they have got inside the school as it stands.

'Serious investment

“My understanding of the Prime Minister’s words are that the activities in summer would be more along the lines of physical activity and teamwork, rather than for teachers to lose their holidays having worked as hard as they have done, and that this would be provided by armies of tutors and lecturers.

“There will need to be a serious investment of money by the Government, and a carefully thought out plan of what these extra activities should be.”

Councillor Ruth Buttery, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said the authority would be using volunteers to run its summer schools.

She said: “We welcome today’s announcement from the Government regarding funding to schools to provide summer sessions for secondary pupils. We’re waiting for further details to come through but will continue to work closely with schools and will support them if they are able and choose to offer this facility.

“We already have plans in place to build on our successful summer school from last year and our recent half term heroes initiative. We will be investing in holidays clubs for the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays this year and are already working with Dudley Council for Voluntary Services to deliver this.

"The clubs will focus on children and young people’s physical and mental wellbeing, because if the children aren’t in a good place physically and emotionally, they won’t learn when back in the classroom.

“Crucially we are not asking teachers to be involved in this summer school as we recognise they need a break, which is why we are building on the support available within the voluntary sector.”

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