Keep school gates open in summer for deprived pupils, Futureversity charity urges

MP Rushanara Ali at Futureversity

MP Rushanara Ali at Futureversity - Credit: Archant

Policy makers must do more to help children in deprived areas whose education suffers during the 170 days a year when the school gates are closed, educationalists are urging.

This is the call to MPs in the Futureversity youth charity’s Summer Vacation report launched in the House of Commons by Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali.

Family worries about money, where the next meal is coming from and social isolation have a bad effect on many youngsters in the holidays, the Futureversity charity at Spitalfields in London’s deprived East End has found.

“We aim to eliminate the childhood of empty summers,” its chief executive Michele McKendry stressed. “Schools should keep the doors open and provide structured fun learning which ultimately leads to better GCSE grades and daring to believe they can achieve more.”

Futureversity had 300 referrals from 10 schools last year alone, with half joining the Vacation Education programme for 13-to-16 year-olds, mainly from difficult homes who had behaviour and motivation problems.

They attend two days a week over the summer, when 3,000 breakfasts and lunches were provided, with 20 volunteer ‘peer motivators’ and 220 business volunteers gave the youngsters an insight into different working environments. This made it easier to settle back into school when the new term began, taking more responsibility for themselves and being motivated.

Rushanara Ali MP, the charity’s founder, said at the launch: “Helping to raise their aspirations can tackle disadvantage and promote social mobility. This report shows the importance of providing opportunities during the school holidays.”

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The negative effects of “empty summers” have a lasting impact on learning, the charity warns.

Youngsters from deprived families go ‘backwards’ during the long holidays as they have little stimulus if parents can’t afford activities to help broaden horizons.