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Academic support will help get kids back on track

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SPREADING OPPORTUNITY

Tutors and mentors will focus on key subject areas to give pupils the boost they need. Produced in partnership with the UK Government.

THE PAST 18 months have been challenging for our children, with almost all experiencing some disruption to their education due to the necessary health restrictions taken to tackle Covid.

To help those whose education has been most affected, the Government-funded National Tutoring Programme is supporting pupils to catch up on lost learning.

It is being offered to primary and secondary schools for children who would benefit most from tuition in certain subjects.

Suzanne Jones was placed in a school as part of the NTP as an Academic Mentor. She specialises in helping primary school pupils with their reading and writing.

She explains: “I work with small groups of children, providing support based on their specific needs.

“I focus on areas such as written communication, reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar.”

Teachers and parents did their best with home learning during lockdown, but Suzanne says some kids now need extra help to get their studies back on track.

She says: “They lost that access to consistent and structured learning, building on what they’ve done. It’s also the social side, not being in an environment with friends, learning from each other and sharing experiences. I think that’s been quite isolating. I’ve noticed that some children have fallen behind in things like handwriting.”

How can your child catch up?

CHILDREN’s learning has been affected by the pandemic, but there are lots of opportunities so that kids of all ages can get the help they need to catch up and flourish.
 

The National Tutoring Programme provides tailored support to those whose education has been most affected, by offering one-to-one or small group tuition. To find out more and to see what opportunities could be available for your child, speak to your school or visit nationaltutoring.org.uk.
 

There are also free Oak National Academy resources, which you can use to help support your child’s learning.

 
Find more information on resources and programmes such as these, to help your child catch-up visit educationcatchup.campaign.gov.uk

Through the tutoring programme, eligible schools in England can apply for an Academic Mentor, like Suzanne, to come in and work with groups of children in subjects such as literacy, numeracy and science.

Suzanne says: “I might do a reading comprehension session with them, to help children dig into and understand a text. Or I might do a writing session with a photo prompt to get their creative juices flowing. I recently found a photo of a horrible looking sandwich and asked the children to come up with ideas for the world’s most disgusting sandwich.

“It not only involved creativity, but coming up with instructions and methods, set out clearly and fluently with lots of nice adverbs and interesting adjectives. A little bit of silliness to get them kicked off… but with a purpose!”

Suzanne is already noticing the benefits of the tutoring sessions for her pupils. “Teachers have found that the children who have fallen behind are doing richer independent work when they are back in the classroom after the sessions.

“If you’re able to take just two or three pupils, you see more engagement from them. You can pitch the sessions to their individual level and provide support for the things they are not so strong on. You also notice improvement in their tests at school and them meeting their learning objectives in things like spelling. And it’s not just in English lessons, there’s also a benefit in maths or wherever they need to write something.

“Children generally love having your attention, so when you’re with them one-on-one or in a small group, it gives them work tailored to their specific needs and you see them carry themselves a little differently.”

Now Suzanne is encouraging parents to ask their schools about what catch-up opportunities are available, such as tuition, and adds: “It really boosts children’s concentration, engagement and confidence.”

‘Tuition made my girl more confident in maths’

ONE-TO-ONE sessions also improved daughter’s wellbeing, says mum.

Lily-Ann Stuart, ten, a pupil at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Dinnington, near Sheffield, has benefited from one-to-one tuition, with the sessions having a positive effect on her schoolwork.

Mum Gemma, a support worker, says: “Lily was struggling a bit in maths, and with everything in lockdown it put her further behind.

“But thanks to the National Tutoring Programme she has been getting extra support, organised through the school. It’s just an hour a week via a laptop, but it has made all the difference.

“She’s really enjoyed it and feels much more confident about the subject.”

Gemma, whose partner James is a bricklayer, adds that the tutoring has also boosted her daughter’s wellbeing: “Lily has become generally happier, which has made all the difference to home life too. It was a great opportunity.”

Five great ways to help kids learn

SUZANNE reveals her top tips to support your child’s learning at home

  1. Read with them, even if it’s just ten minutes a day. Pick topics that engage them, even if it’s looking at a recipe or a set of toy instructions. It all helps.
  2. It’s not always possible, but try to provide a dedicated space for learning.
  3. Short bursts are better than long sessions – for you and your kids. Make them fun and build in time for play, too. You are trying to get away from the idea that any learning at home is a chore.
  4. If you can’t access loads of stuff online, try local libraries, which often have reading schemes over the holidays. If you have access to the internet, Oak National Academy has resources for children of all ages.
  5. Remember that children are resilient. Whatever you can do at home will help them. But speak to your child’s teacher if you’re worried.

 To find more information about these programmes and other resources that can help your child catch up, click here.