'Keep schools open in summer holidays' MPs urged by Futureversity youth charity
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 March 2017
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.
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.
“This report shows the importance of providing opportunities during the school holidays,” she told fellow MPs at the launch. “Helping to raise their aspirations can tackle disadvantage and promote social mobility.”
Rushanara founded the youth charity in Spitalfields, in the heart of her constituency in London’s deprived East End where many children from deprived families regress during the long “empty summer holidays” due to poverty.
Families worrying about money, where the next meal is coming from or facing sheer social isolation have a bad effect on youngsters in the summer months, the Futureversity charity has found.
Its chief executive Michele McKendry pledged: “We aim to eliminate the childhood of empty summers.
“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.”
The organisation had 300 teenagers referred to them from 10 state schools last year alone, in Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Islington, Waltham Forest and Lambeth.
Half the youths joined the Vacation Education programme for 13-to-16 year-olds, whom were mainly from difficult homes and 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 them an insight into different working environments.
This made it easier to settle back into school when the new term began in September, taking more responsibility for themselves and being more motivated.
The negative effects of “empty summers” have a lasting impact on learning, the charity warns.
Teenagers go ‘backwards’ during the long holidays if they have little stimulus, when parents can’t afford activities to help broaden their horizons.
Futureversity’s summer programme offered business, art and fashion, sport, digital media and photography and performing arts.
Most youngsters in the programme said they would have spent the summer ‘lying in bed’ if they had not been taking part.