Secondary schools in England are to be funded to run summer schools for pupils worst affected by the pandemic, the government has announced.
I know many people will be thinking – “about time teachers did some work, they get too many holidays anyway, they ought to work through this summer to get students caught up.”
Now let’s think about this – I know many, many teachers and leaders that already work large parts of their holidays to ensure the time that students are in school (or learning remotely) is effectively planned and that students have effective feedback to enable them to continue to make progress.
Many of these teachers and leaders would willingly change their work patterns this summer to directly work with students to help them catch-up assuming that it is clear what it is they are catching up with.
Summer schools work much better if they are not academic bolt-on sessions but, instead, they focus on student wellbeing, on fun, on collaboration, friendship and exploration. These sessions can interweave literacy and numeracy activities into them and develop happier, more well-rounded individuals, often with a greater thirst for knowledge.
Schools do not just shut down in the holidays. They are multi-layered organisations – many with hundreds of staff, huge IT infrastructures and premises, which require significant work to upkeep, develop and update.
The other thing that people forget is that the holidays are just that – holidays – all jobs are different, all careers rewarded in different ways with terms and conditions made clear at the outset. Personally, I rarely switch off from the job – term time or holidays, but that’s not to say we should expect people to spoil their work/life balance (if they even have one at the moment!).
If these summer school plans are to work, then teachers, schools and others need to be involved.
Perhaps the £200m pledged to expand the government’s national tutoring programme could be tweaked to set up effective summer programmes focussing on the whole child – outdoor education, trips, mindfulness?
Kids on these programmes will be in a far better place by September!