Derbyshire teachers and union leaders say 'Covid catch up' summer schools 'should not be compulsory'

Teachers and union leaders in Derbyshire have welcomed Government plans to help children catch up on lost learning through summer classes – but insist they should not be compulsory.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 26th February 2021, 9:55 am

Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced an extra £400m to help children who have missed out on learning through the coronavirus pandemic, which will include asking secondary schools to run classes in the summer holidays.

He said the initiative would provide children with the ‘opportunities they deserve to learn and fulfil their potential’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Teaching unions say they have concerns about summer schools but agree pupils must catch up after the pandemic. Image: Pixabay.

A Derbyshire teacher, who asked not to be named, said in theory it was a great idea that more vulnerable children would be given the opportunity to catch up.

"If it is properly funded and doesn’t fall on teachers who have already worked so hard during the pandemic I would be all for it,” she said.

Jonathan Lynch, headteacher at Heath Primary School, said it was important ‘to be patient, reflect and ensure we do what is right for our children’.

He added: "Our main priority has always been to have all our children back and support them in any we can, whether through continuing to build on our relationships, a strong pastoral approach, and interventions to support where appropriate.”

Teaching unions have expressed concern that the scheme could mean extra work for teachers.

Nick Raine, senior regional officer in the East Midlands for the National Education Union, said he fully supported the need for pupils to catch up after the pandemic.

"We have always supported summer schools for young people, especially those in families with limited resources,” he said. “In fact, we advocated the use of them last year.

"However, they can’t be compulsory or added to teachers’ workloads. Teachers have already worked over and above through the pandemic.”

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said any plan on summer schools needed to be ‘properly thought through’.

He said education secretary Gavin Williamson ‘had a habit of talking off the top of his head and not thinking the implications of these things through’.

"There is of course an issue with children missing so much school during the pandemic,” he added.

Under the programme, state schools will have access to a cash pot totalling £302m.

This will allow them to use the funding as they see fit to support students, including additional clubs and activities.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.