5 ways schools have helped pupils feel confident post-lockdown

Since schools opened their doors for the second time during the pandemic, they’ve been faced with the challenge of making sure that all of their pupils are up to speed with their learning.

In this blog, we’ll share 5 ways schools have helped their students transition back the school learning environment, and to continue to learn and progress during the academic year. 

So the question is: with May TAGs and CAGs in full swing, how have schools approached getting their students ready for in-school exams? To share their school recovery plans, we’ll share examples from two of MyTutor’s school partners, James Hannan (Assistant Headteacher and Head of Curriculum, Chelmer Valley High School) and Jacqui Maxfield (Assistant Headteacher, Head of Creativity and Innovations Faculty at Crispin School Academy).

1. Ask your students how they feel 

Coming out of lockdown this March, a priority for school leaders was to address students’ struggles with their mental health and pandemic-induced stresses. James tells us how his school made wellbeing a focus at Chelmer Valley:

“We preempted that children could be facing trauma and high levels of stress, and would most likely be carrying this coming back to school.  And to add to this, they’d be thinking about the tonnes of school work they would have to catch up on.
Because of this, we sent out surveys to all year groups asking pupils how they felt about the pandemic, how it had affected their learning progress. This gave us very good insight, which helped us set up plans to make wellbeing and mental health a key focus for the summer term”

School leaders also asked pupils to share their thoughts once schools opened again. At Chelmer Valley, moving around the timetable to set up extra English booster lessons helped their students deepen their foundational literacy skills. The feedback was key to set up these recovery methods.

2. Avoid using negative buzzwords 

Another method some schools used to protect pupils’ wellbeing and help them build their learning confidence back was to avoid overused buzzwords such as “catch-up” and “being behind”. The avoidance of these words in schools is critical to helping students adjust back into a stable and steady routine. 

This is due to the mass media coverage over the last few months, on how pupils (primarily those from a disadvantaged background) would need a whole year to “catch up”.

Focussing on ways to help struggling pupils get back up to speed, rather than the impact of learning loss over the multiple lockdown periods, has proven to be more effective.

3. Carry on with schooling as normal

During lockdown, some pupils adapted more easily than others to remote learning. To help ease pupils in those first few weeks back, many teachers carried on with the curriculum as normal. For example, if the last online lesson in maths was on the Pythagoras theorem, the first lesson once school opened touched on the same topic.  

Teachers at Chelmer Valley were encouraged to pick up where they left off instead of repeating the curriculum taught or missed during lockdown.

When the goal is to build stability and continue pupils’ progression, moving the timetable around to fit in free periods for extra Maths and English classes can be the right move for pupils to keep up in a safe space.  

4. Set up tuition for those who need it

Once you identify those pupils who may need extra attention and a tailored approach to learning, setting up a tuition programme can be a great way to help build pupils confidence.

With the use of the government’s catch-up funding and the National Tutoring Programme, tuition is more accessible than before. Jacqui tells us how she used her catch-up fund to set up a tuition programme,

“Initially, we were a little sceptical about implementing tuition for our students, as we weren’t sure that they would fully engage with it. We started small, signed up a cohort of only 45 students, mixing two-year groups to see how it would go. As a result, we were pleasantly surprised!

Pupils who were usually disengaged in the classroom have really taken to their MyTutor sessions. We’ve also seen a spike in parental engagement, with some asking for their children to be signed up for the programme, which is fantastic. We are definitely planning to extend it to more students”

At MyTutor this year, we’ve been able to help  750+ schools and over 30,000 students through 3:1 small group tuition via the NTP. Our undergraduate tutors help students grow in their learning confidence and raise their grades by reinforcing classwork.

Tuition for all pupils, and especially those from a disadvantaged background, can be just the thing to raise aspirations and help pupils reach their full potential.

Whether you plan to rejig your pupils’ timetables to squeeze in extra core subject support, or set up a tuition programme during or after school – these are just a couple of great ways to help boost students who need the extra support.

5. Make use of the Covid catch-up fund
 

Though COVID-19 has brought many challenges this year, the provisions that have been set up in response, has brought opportunities to schools like never before. The catch-up schemes have been set up to help pupils perform at their best. Jackie from Crispin School tells us more, 

“With the catch-up fund, we’ve been able to support our and disadvantaged students with laptops from the DFE. We’ve also been able to employ Pupil Premium Training Assistants to support students adjusting back to school.

They’ve been a great support at homework clubs, they’ve helped students write college applications and assisted in classroom lessons too. They know the students personally and are irreplaceable for the time that we’re in” 

In the new academic year, schools will also be able to access the School-Led Tutoring grant, a new ring-fenced fund that can be used to cover tuition costs to support disadvantaged students.

To conclude …

With schools well into the summer term, both Jacqui and James are focussing on reintroducing creative and extra-curricular activities into their school’s timetable.

From here and beyond, there will be a big push to help students readjust back into schooling and assessments, especially getting the Year 10 cohort ready for Year 11 and setting up intervention plans for all pupils to realise their best potential – ready for the new academic year.

Even though the effects of COVID-19 will be around for a while, schools and their leaders will continue to have a massive impact and influence in supporting and helping their students aim high to achieve their potential.

Interested in setting up a tuition programme for your school?

We’d love to hear about your goals and discuss how MyTutor can support them. Call us for a chat on 0203 773 6025 or you can book a call with the team here

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