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Teach First calls for support for summer schools to close the COVID-19 attainment gap

We are calling on the Government to help fund intensive recovery provision, to minimise the growing attainment gap whilst most children are out of schools.  

  • New survey reveals 61% of teachers would work over the summer to help pupils get back on track with their ongoing education.
  • 90% of headteachers said they would need additional funding to pay staff overtime.

Teach First has today called on the Government to help fund intensive recovery provision as an option for schools to help get children from disadvantaged backgrounds on track and minimise the growing attainment gap whilst most children are out of schools.

The charity has called for this provision to be launched in late summer if social distancing rules allow it, or alternatively to be phased into the next academic year and beyond. Teach First argue teachers need to be paid overtime to work in summer schools in person and that the Government needs to fully fund additional resources to make them a success.

A Teach First survey with Teacher Tapp has found that many teachers are supportive, with six in ten (61%) teachers saying they would be willing to working in a national summer school if the Government were to propose it. Of those, 32% of teachers would be willing to work for one week at a summer school and 29% of teachers would be willing to work for more than a week at a summer school – with the majority of these teachers willing only if they were paid overtime.

These results support Teach First’s argument that schools will need additional funding and support to run effective summer schools. When asked to pick their top three most needed resources to do this:

  • 90% of headteachers said they would need additional funding to pay staff overtime  
  • 77% of headteachers said they would need additional funding to pay for pupil meals 
  • 36% said they would need laptops, books, and other kit  
  • 27% said they would need a tool kit with tips on how to run an effective summer school

Asking all teachers the same question, those in the most disadvantaged schools were more likely to cite the need for additional funding to pay for meals compared to the most advantaged schools, (79% vs 67%) and more likely to need laptops, books and other kit (41% vs 28%).

Evidence already shows that on average, students who attend a summer school make two months’ additional progress compared to similar students who do not attend a summer school.1 This increases to four months’ progress if summer schools are intensive, well-resourced, and involve small group tuition by trained and experienced teachers.  

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:  

“Paying teachers overtime for their optional extra work, and fully resourcing summer schools, particularly in the most disadvantaged communities, will be essential to getting the support to the children who need it most.

“Summer schools are one way to provide the foundations to re-engage pupils with ongoing school life, re-establishing routines so that when schools fully resume young people can hit the ground running with learning.”

Rebecca Cramer, Headteacher of Reach Academy and Teach First ambassador, said: 

"We need to ensure all children emerge from this crisis well supported educationally and emotionally. Let's not avoid the truth, disadvantaged communities have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. We must reduce the risk of our children falling even further behind, which will have a lasting impact on their futures.  

“Summer schools are a viable, research-informed option to catch up on lost learning and re-establish the routines and relationships which will support children to flourish. Investment in the resources and funding for valuable staff time required to pull this off will create important savings in the long-term and reduce harm to our children."

The proposal comes as part of the charity’s submission to the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on education and children’s services, which makes a number of recommendations focused on ensuring disadvantaged children do not fall further behind.

The recommendations in full are:

  • Give disadvantaged children access to devices and internet to learn from home by extending the eligibility of the Government’s technology support scheme to children of all ages from low-income families. 
  • Ensure GCSE and A-level grades are awarded as fairly as possible by asking Ofqual to monitor the distribution of grades that are submitted by schools and exam boards for pupils eligible for the pupil premium, or pupils from ethnic minority groups. 
  • Acknowledge improving schools in grade awards by asking Ofqual to explore how they can provide flexibility to schools that are able to justify grade improvements compared to previous years. 
  • Provide intensive catch-up for children from disadvantaged backgrounds by creating summer schools across the country or offering after-school provision once schools are back.  
  • Continue and enhance efforts to recruit and retain new teachers by progressing starting salary increases, extending financial incentives to work in disadvantaged areas and an earlier full rollout of the Early Career Framework. 
  • Invest in school leaders by offering them coaching from experienced school leaders and access to peer-to-peer networks.   
  • Weight school funding increases towards schools serving disadvantaged pupils, and continue to allocate the pupil premium for six years after a child has a period of receiving free school meals, including those children who are becoming eligible during Covid-19. 
  • Commission ongoing research on the impact of school closures on children’s learning, with particular consideration for how this differs across families by demographics.



Notes to Editor

1 Education Endowment Foundation, Evidence summary: Summer schools, 2019

Teacher Tapp surveyed 7,086 teachers in schools across England. The results were reweighted to ensure representativeness. You can read the results in full HERE.

About Teach First

Teach First is an education charity with a mission to build a fair education for all. Through a range of school leadership programmes the charity supports teachers, leaders and schools facing the biggest challenges, serving the most disadvantaged communities.

The charity has now recruited over 14,000 teachers and leaders, has over 60 head teachers in their alumni and has supported over a million pupils.

Those on the Training Programme commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school, where they teach a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) timetable; and around half stay on for a third year. More than half of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching.

The charity supports whole leadership teams through Leading Together. Develops individuals to become effective leaders through Middle Leader, Senior Leader and Headship programmes leading to a National Professional Qualification. And provides Career Leader training to develop a long-term, school wide careers strategy to improve student opportunities after school.

Teach First currently operates in Wales and in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coat, South West and the East of England.  

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