The impact of the pandemic on education is still being measured, understood, and assessed. What is clear is that it has exposed and deepened educational inequality across the country. Research from the EFF suggests that the disruption has reversed a decade’s worth of progress in closing the attainment gap delivered by the Pupil Premium.
To begin closing the attainment gap again will require a sustained approach from schools and careful use of the extra funding being made available to all students across the country.
Catch-Up and Recovery Funding
A total of £705 million is available to schools to fund recovery and catch-up. The funding consists of a £302 million Covid recovery premium for schools, £200 million for secondary schools to run summer school activities, and £203 million to expand the National Tutoring Programme, 16 to 19 tuition fund and to provide early years support. The funding equates to around £80 per pupil. However, while funding is distributed on a per-pupil basis, there is no compulsion for schools to spend equally on all pupils.
Approaches to Spending Catch-Up and Recovery Funding
The EFF’s Covid-19 Support Guides for Schools set out three strategies that schools may wish to follow to maximise the impact of the funding on the attainment levels of their pupils.
Teaching and whole-school strategies
Focussed on supporting excellent teaching, student assessment and feedback
Here the idea is to improve the quality of teaching, for example, through additional CPD or non-contact time for teachers to help them develop the skills required to support curriculum planning, extra training and the effective use of technology.
Schools should provide adequate time and resources to carry out pupil assessment to determine the impact of closures on each student’s academic progress and mental well-being and identify those in need of additional catch-up support.
Providing pupils most in need with access to one-to-one and small group tuition, intervention programmes. This could be funded directly by using catch-up premium or via programmes such as the National Tutoring Programme.
High-quality one-to-one and small-group tuition focused on areas of need form an impactful catch-up strategy. The EEF notes that “programmes are likely to have the greatest impact where they meet a specific need” and are sustained and consistent over time. These structured interventions are beneficial for students who have fallen behind in literacy and numeracy.
Finding the right people to deliver tuition is critical and presents the school with two options. Using the class or subject teacher to provide the additional one-to-one or small group tuition sessions themselves by releasing them from their class teaching duty.
The second option is to bring in trained tutors to work with several pupils the school identifies as needing additional support. Protocol Education is currently training such tutors in partnership with Best Practice Network as part of our NTP funded programme.
3. Wider strategies
Strategies schools may wish to consider providing support for parents and carers, extending access to appropriate technology for pupils and delivering summer support programmes.
While additional funding for summer school programmes is currently available for secondary and special needs schools, primary schools are also planning programmes focussing on academic support and enrichment activities to boost confidence and narrow the attainment gap.