The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on all children. Ofsted’s report into the pandemic finds that children who were hardest hit by school closures and restrictions have regressed in some basic skills and learning. Older children have lost stamina in their reading and writing, some have lost physical fitness, others show signs of mental distress. Teachers reported they had covered only 66% of their usual curriculum, putting children 3 months behind in their learning (The National Foundation for Educational Research July 2020). Teacher assessments from our own feeder primary schools suggest that children achieving the expected standard in English and maths has decreased by up to a third.
In response to this challenge we have developed a bold and ambitious plan that will deliver sustained recovery over time and underpin our already broad curriculum. A restructured curriculum and school day has been designed with the focus firmly on students’ learning, particularly with foundation skills in Key Stage 3. The main vehicle for delivering this is our daily Period 1 recovery lessons including Literacy, STEM and ROAR (PSHE). The Literacy lessons (1 hour per week) are whole class reading sessions fostering a love of reading, broadening vocabulary and increased fluency. We also provide a bespoke accelerated pathway for those children who are pre-key stage readers through a research based reading intervention. Through STEM the students get a chance to plug gaps in basic maths concepts, make links to aspirational careers and develop problem solving skills. ROAR provides dedicated time to develop our students Resilience, Open mindedness, Aspirations and Reflection, addressing challenges of adolescence, increasing independence and managing diverse relationships.
Key Stage 4 receive the same Literacy and ROAR offer as well as a bespoke pathway through subject intervention based on half termly data analysis. These flexible interventions provide an opportunity for students to revisit key concepts that may be a barrier to future progress. Physical wellbeing is also core to their recovery package, developing fitness and nurturing a positive mindset towards being active. In Key Stage 5 they receive a combination of ROAR and career readiness learning to embed the knowledge and skills which will equip them for life and work.