Schools closed for most pupils for part of 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although remote education was in place for pupils during this time, it is widely recognised that a full educational and social experience is best provided in school.
When schools fully reopened to pupils after each lockdown, teachers used diagnostic assessments to determine where the gaps in children’s skills, knowledge and understanding were across the curriculum. This was carried out using informal methods such as verbal questioning, short answer quizzes and multiple-choice questions; and formal assessments such as EYFS baseline, NFER tests and past national assessments (e.g. Phonics Screening Check for year two pupils who missed their summer assessment).
It is accepted that vulnerable pupils were most impacted over the school closure periods nationally. Although schools were open to vulnerable pupils throughout the lockdown, not all parents/carers took this up for a number of reasons.
The Department for Education has allocated “Catch-Up Premium” funding to all maintained schools across the country to address the needs of our most vulnerable pupils, first and foremost, to address any educational and social/emotional/behavioural issues caused by the lockdown.
At Churchfields, we believe that some pupils experience vulnerabilities outside of the recognised groups (such as those in receipt of Pupil Premium and with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities). These vulnerabilities may be either short or long term, but important we recognise and address these needs. The identification of these additional vulnerable pupils is therefore an important part of our recovery and catch-up strategy. The needs of our non-vulnerable pupils are also crucial and included in our planning.
Our catch-up priorities at Churchfields are child-led. The needs of our pupils are uppermost when planning our return to a full curriculum. The identification and breaking down of academic, social, emotional and behavioural barriers for individuals, groups and even classes carefully match requirements and are vigorous assessed for impact. Assessments of impact can include the informal and formal methods given above, alongside specific assessments relating to targeted high-fidelity interventions. Our work is then finely tuned based on these assessments to ensure the funding secures value for money.
Changing pupil needs over the recovery and catch-up period dictates a fluidity of support over time. Our planning at Churchfields is therefore not set in stone, but responsive to need and includes the following strategies: