Education chiefs call for funding and plans to ensure poorer pupils don’t fall further behind as summer holidays near
- Credit: PA
Education chiefs have urged the government to act so that poorer pupils don’t fall further behind over the summer.
Lead members at town halls in Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets have recommended measures – including a booster programme similar to summer schools – to education secretary Gavin Williamson.
Evelyn Carpenter, Elaine Norman, Danny Hassell and Julianne Marriott joined 10 counterparts across London warning that for disadvantaged pupils “time is already short”.
“We have a strong concern the prolonged closure of schools to most children since March could have an unfair impact on the progress of disadvantaged pupils”, their letter to Mr Williamson states.
They warn the impact could be “acute” for youngsters in Year 10 who “may miss out” on a “large part” of the GCSE syllabus.
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The councillors add that it is “vital” to work with black, Asian and minority communities to support children who they identify as experiencing “persistent” gaps in achievement even before schools closed.
Children moving schools may also find making the transition more difficult, they add.
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As a result of their concerns, the members call on the Department for Education to help design and put in place a booster programme for children at risk of falling behind.
Other suggestions include mentoring, intensive transition programmes for Year 6s, extra support next academic year and work to prevent children from poorer backgrounds going hungry over the summer holiday.
The councillors call for more money and solutions.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We will do whatever we can to make sure no child, whatever their background, falls behind as a result of coronavirus.
“The government has already committed more than £100million to support children to learn at home, and pupil premium funding at the highest ever rate per pupil continues to be paid to help schools support their disadvantaged pupils.”
He added that many schools have begun welcoming children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 back to the classroom in a “phased and cautious” approach.
“We are also considering, with a range of partner organisations, what more is required to support all pupils who have been affected by school closures,” he said.
Further measures include providing some disadvantaged children with laptops and a plan to provide 4G internet access.