“Massive catch-up” promised help pupils over summer as parents face months more homeschooling
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School pupils will undergo a “massive catch-up operation over the summer and beyond” to get up to speed on work they have missed, the prime minister has said.
Boris Johnson said he wanted all pupils back in classrooms in September after abandoning plans to get more primary school children back in class before the summer break.
He said details of the catch-up plans will be outlined by education secretary Gavin Williamson next week.
Primary school children in nursery, reception, and years one and six began returning to primary school from June 1.
Two thirds of schools in Norfolk have welcomed back more children with most expected to have reopened to some or all of the priority years by the start of next week.
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But some schools said they did not have enough space on site to admit all pupils in the eligible year groups while adhering to guidance to limit class sizes to 15 and encourage fewer interactions.
Secondary schools will begin to provide some face-to-face support for year 10 and year 12 students from June 15 to help them prepare for exams.
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But government guidance is that they should only have a quarter of pupils in at any one time.
The dropping of the plans for all primary school pupils to return drew a mixed reaction, with some Norfolk headteachers acknowledging that the practicalities would make it inevitable, but that parents would be left facing more homeschooling.
We are asking parents to tell us their experiences of overseeing the learning of children unable to return to the classroom.
Sarah Shirras, headteacher of St William’s Primary School in Thorpe St Andrew and co-chair of Educate Norfolk, said: “By the time we get to September this will have been five months that some children will not have been attending school.”
The government has come under pressure to ensure that schools will be able to accommodate all pupils in September amid fears that such a long period out of the classroom could have a long-term impact on children’s education.
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, said: “We know that there’s a real variation in learning. We’ve got some children, more affluent children, especially those going to private schools, who are literally attending Zoom schools from nine till three in the afternoon with lessons as normal.
“And we know that 90pc of disadvantaged children aren’t going online for more than two hours, if that. We also know there’s about a million children who just don’t have the tech or the broadband to be able to learn in this way.”
Rejecting suggestions that education had not been a priority, Mr Johnson said: “We’re going to get all schools back in September if we possibly can... But it’s going to be a big summer of catch up.
“We’re going to keep making sure that kids get the remedial help that they need for the stuff that they’ve missed for months and months to come so that they genuinely make up for lost time.”
Last month Norfolk County Council issued tips and guidance to help parents and carers facing on-going home schooling as well as online educational activities targeted at all pupil ages.
Chris Snudden, director of learning, said: “Most parents are not school teachers, and of course we don’t expect them to try to copy what would happen at school, but they have already taught their children so much, and they should feel confident that they can help their youngsters learn at home.”