Schools advised to spend £650m catch-up cash on summer activities, longer days and extra books

Schools are being advised to spend their £650 million coronavirus catch-up cash on summer programmes and longer school days, as well as tuition under the new national tutoring programme.

New government-backed guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation has set out the interventions schools could spend their additional catch-up funding on.

It follows an announcement that £650 million will be split between state primary and secondary schools to help make up for missed education. It is not yet known how the money will be shared out.

Here are the some of the interventions recommended by the EEF.

(Note: while the government “expects” cash to be spent on effective interventions, it’s ultimately down to schools to decide what they spend it on)

 

1. Provide summer support (despite cash not coming until September)

According to the guidance, summer programmes “can benefit pupils socially and academically, helping to ensure that they return to school ready to learn”.

This support can focus on a “wide range of outcomes”, and include a “wide range of activities such as sports, music and drama that children might have missed out on during lockdown”.

But one challenge is achieving high levels of attendance, “particularly from children from disadvantaged families”. Staffing is also a “key challenge”, the guidance recognises, given the “extensive demands placed on teachers and schools in recent months and the challenges created by public health requirements”.

“For summer programmes to improve educational outcomes, they need to include high-quality academic support, such as small group tuition delivered by teachers or trained tutors.”

However, the £650 million won’t be given to schools until the new academic year. But schools minister Nick Gibb told the BBC today: “Schools will know it’s coming and they will be able to budget on that basis if they want to do things before September.”

Schools will also now only have a few weeks until the summer to arrange such programmes.

 

2. Extend the school day, but get staff support first

The guidance states that “in some cases, schools may consider extending the length of the school day”.

This could be done to provide additional academic or pastoral support to particular pupils after school, the guidance suggests.

“There is some evidence that extending school time can have a small positive impact on learning as well as improving other outcomes, such as attendance and behaviour.”

But the guidance goes on to say that to be successful, any increases in school time “should be supported by both parents and staff”.

 

3. Improve access to technology

With pupils returning to school, technology could be “valuable” in facilitating access to online tuition or support.

Some schools “might find it helpful to invest in additional technology, either by providing pupils with devices or improving the facilities available in school”.

But ensuring the “elements of effective teaching are present”—for example, clear explanations, scaffolding, practice and feedback— is said to be “more important than which form of technology is used”.

Providing support and guidance on how to use technology effectively is also “essential, particularly if new forms of technology are being introduced”.

It comes after the government admitted that only around half of the 230,000 devices allocated to schools for disadvantaged pupils have been delivered, giving them just two weeks to meet its target.

 

4. Use one-to-one and small group tuition

According to the guidance, a “three-way relationship between tutor, teacher and pupils” is “essential” and ensures tuition is guided by the school, linked to the curriculum and “focused on the areas where pupils would most benefit from additional practice or feedback”.

The EEF states that “as a rule of thumb, the smaller the group the better”, but that both one-to-one and group sessions can be effective.

Tuition delivered by qualified teachers “is likely to have the highest impact”. Tuition delivered by tutors, teaching assistants, or trained volunteers “can also be effective”, but they will benefit from training “linked to specific content and approaches”.

It follows the announcement of a £350 million National Tutoring Programme, which will give schools access to sessions subsidised by 75 per cent and coaches to teach the poorest children.

 

5. Furthest behind likely to need literacy and numeracy interventions

Pupils who are furthest behind are likely to need “structured interventions”, with a particular focus on literacy and numeracy, the guidance states.

Programmes are “likely to have the greatest impact where they meet a specific need, such as oral language skills or aspects of reading, include regular sessions maintained over a sustained period and are carefully time-tabled to enable consistent delivery”.

Effective intervention “follows assessment”, the EEF said, which “can be used to ensure that support is well-targeted and to monitor pupil progress”.

 

6. Support great teaching by investing in CPD

According to the guidance, great teaching is “the most important lever schools have to improve outcomes for their pupils”.

Schools should ensure every teacher is supported and prepared for the new year, while providing opportunities for professional development.

CPD to support curriculum planning or focused training on the effective use of technology “is likely to be valuable”.

Schools also need to ensure teachers, particularly those early in their careers, have training and support to adjust to organisational and logistical changes to school life.

 

7. Extra books for families over the summer

Additional support from September could “focus on providing regular and supportive communications with parents, especially to increase attendance and engagement with learning”, the guidance states.

This is because there’s a risk that high levels of absence after the summer “pose a particular risk for disadvantaged pupils”.

Providing additional books and educational resources to families over the summer “may also be helpful—for example, offering advice about effective strategies for reading with children”.