A programme to support children who have fallen behind in their education as a result of Covid-19 will, this week, complete its first full month of sessions, despite the latest national lockdown forcing it to move to remote provision. 

‘Attain’ is now in its first phase with teachers from the Latymer Upper School, St Paul’s and St Paul’s Girls’ Schools supporting Year 5 and 6 pupils at local primary schools whose education has been badly disrupted by the pandemic. 

Pupils involved in the programme have been nominated to take part by their class teachers. They have been selected on the basis of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on them and their education. Each child will receive up to 15 hours of catch up support in Maths and English, as part of a small group of 3-4 children, tailored to the needs of the schools. 

“The disadvantage gap, like holiday hunger and the digital divide, pre-dates Covid-19 and will sadly outlast it,” said David Goodhew, Head of Latymer Upper School, “The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated these problems,” he continued. “According to the Education Policy Institute, the disparity between high versus low income families’ experience of lockdown learning is estimated to be 75 minutes per day, which equated to 15 days by July 2020. This means that by the Summer, state-school families had experienced 12 weeks of disruption or lost learning, but the poorest had lost 15 weeks. As educators, we felt compelled to do something to help. At the beginning of the first lockdown we had provided laptops and dongles to students at partner schools who would otherwise not have had devices or wifi access to log onto their lessons. As the lockdown went on, it was clear that we had to do more. At the holiday camps we ran we focused on children’s wellbeing, giving them fun and interesting activities to be part of as well as making sure they were getting fed.”

Latymer has a long history of promoting social mobility through education, going all the way back to the 17th century. As well as its extensive bursary provision, Latymer is also well known and well regarded for the extensive array of ‘outreach’ programmes and events, which reflects the school’s strong social ethos. Through more than 50 partnership programmes with local state maintained primary and secondary schools and charitable organisations, it is estimated that the School impacts around 1,000 children at maintained schools each year.  

During the first national lockdown the School reached out to its network of partner schools and Attain was born out of this collaboration during the Summer of 2020. “The feedback was overwhelming,” says David. “When we asked Heads what we could meaningfully do to support them and their pupils through this pandemic, the feedback was unanimous: support with English and maths to pupils in small groups to help them catch up with the learning they had lost out on as a result of the disruptions to their education.” 

Thanks to the generous support of the Latymer Foundation and their donors, Attain is being offered to partner schools free of charge.

Michael Schumm, Headteacher at St. Stephen’s CE Primary School in West London said:  “This has been the most challenging time I’ve known in all my years of teaching. There has been so much disruption for our pupils and we are all working so hard to help them through this. As well as supporting their health and wellbeing we are doing everything we can to help them catch up on their learning; but it is a huge task, which is why I’m so very grateful to Latymer Upper School for offering this incredible support. I really appreciated being asked what would make the most impact and they really listened. The support is very much tailored to what we and our pupils need and they’ve taken the time to match their teacher with mine. We are thrilled to be one of the first schools to get the programme up and running which means that our pupils can reap the benefits and catch up as quickly as possible.”

As Latymer was keen to help as many children as possible, it meant recruiting not only from within Latymer Upper and Prep Schools, but from other like-minded schools in the area. Latymer reached out to colleagues at St Paul’s and St Paul’s Girls’ schools, with whom they have worked on many projects in the past and happily they agreed straight away. Teachers and a wider network of partner schools were then brought into the programme. 

“Each teacher that we recruited has been provided with training, resources and regular support from a designated, primary-trained teacher, as many of them would usually be teaching at secondary school age children,” says David. “We then worked hard to carefully pair them with a peer at a partner primary school. Together they then co-designed individual tuition plans with impact measures over the course of the programme, that complimented what the pupils are learning in class. It’s taken us a whole term to develop, but all the preparatory work meant that when we suddenly went into lockdown and we had to pivot to remote delivery, we had good foundations in place.”

One of the pupils taking part in the sessions is Bethel, aged 11. She said: “My classmates and I are finding school very hard in lockdown so I’m really enjoying this tutoring opportunity I was given, as well as the others in the group – I know they are enjoying it too!! Thank you so much for these tutoring lessons, they help a lot.”

Cameron Palmer, our Head of Modern Foreign Languages, is one of the  teachers delivering the sessions. He said: “The loveliest surprise has been just how grateful the students are for this personalised attention. They’re so polite and so very eager to learn. It feels good to be able to help them, through giving up my free time to support them to catch up with their learning. The support I have had from the tutor coaches, to get set up, has been incredible and I’ve really enjoyed working with Zoe, the teacher I‘ve been paired with at our partner school. I’m so proud to be part of this programme and to be at a School that would set up something like this.”  

“By half term, we will have seven teachers running sessions across seven schools, supporting 27 children, with a further six schools due to start soon after the half term holiday. Sadly, I think this programme will be needed for a long time to come, which is why we are keen to grow and develop the programme so that we can reach more children who need support,” said  David. 

In order to continue offering this free tutoring to local primary school pupils, we would welcome the support of the Latymer community. If you would like to find out more information about how you can help, please contact or you can make a donation here.

Author: carolineroberts

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