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Heads say that not all pupils will need extra catch-up

Heads cautious over calls for catch-up lessons or extra tuition for kids affected by Covid remote learning

12 March, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

John Hayes outside Gospel Oak Primary School in Mansfield Road

HEADTEACHERS have urged the government to step carefully with catch-up lessons for pupils who have missed schooling due to Covid and not put in a blanket order for children to attend extra classes.

Hundreds of Camden pupils returned to schools in the borough this week for the first time since going home for the Christmas break.

As part of the return, the government has announced £700m for a programme for pupils to make up for ground they may have lost in certain subjects. School leaders have raised concerns about the impact on already-fatigued staff, families and children.

Gospel Oak headteacher John Hayes said: “I think there’s a perception that staff have stopped. The way they’ve had to teach and prepare has been far more onerous than actually being in school in front of children. They’ve never stopped.”

He added: “My belief is that really good teachers who really know their subject and really know the children will be able to focus in on areas where some children have fallen behind and catch up.

“Over the next few months, we’ll make a lot of progress to getting children back to those levels that we expect. I don’t see the urgency of saying ‘school hours must be extended and holidays should be cancelled’.”

Meanwhile, co-headteacher of UCL Academy, Robin Street, said: “To say that all kids will need some catch-up is just wrong. Some will need none, because they’ve absolutely smashed it.

“I think we need to have some resource in place as and when kids return back full-time and we can start to identify where real genuine gaps exist and what we can do to support those kids.

“I don’t agree with the potential narrative that all schools must offer all children summer school all summer long.”

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