Responding to COVID-19
We recognise that the extended school closure linked to Covid-19 has the potential to have a significant negative impact on the learning of our young people.
As a result, we have a robust ‘recovery plan’ in place that is designed to meet the specific needs of all of our young people and support them to realise their full potential. This plan will be reviewed regularly throughout 2021-22 as we provide the support that our young people need and deserve.
Our recovery plan is organised around the three stages outlined below.
Our aim is to support students to return to a school experience that is as close to normal as possible, providing support and reassurance to enable them to do so. Our approach to remote learning during the lockdown has been designed to support us with this.
We need to review the progress that students are making as they re-engage with day-to-day education in school. As well as establishing the learning that has been lost, there needs to be a focus on assessing the speed with which students are ‘catching up’. We also need to closely monitor the well-being of all students, ensuring all who require additional support are able to receive this.
Once students have successfully been re-engaged with day-to-day education in schools, and we have reviewed their progress, more significant curriculum and other changes will be made as appropriate. At all times, the best interests of each young person will be at the heart of any alterations made. We also need to consider longer-term measures that will help to support the well-being of all students and, where appropriate, provide increasingly intensive support to the most vulnerable students who face the greatest challenges in successfully returning to school.
Key Elements of Our Recovery Plan
Curriculum Focus on Vital Content
Our starting point is to ensure that the core curriculum lesson time that we have with our students has the maximum impact. Extensive work has taken place to review the curriculum in each subject to ensure our teachers have been able to identify the knowledge and skills that will be vital to the success of their students. As a result, we can be confident that the learning that takes place focuses precisely upon this.
The school developed an approach to setting remote learning that was successful during the extended closure of schools from March to July 2020 and again from January to March 2021.
As a consequence of this approach, high numbers of students were regularly accessing learning throughout this period. Whilst we appreciate that there is no substitute for young people being in a classroom with their teacher, our approach helped us to reduce the learning deficit and place us in a strong position to recover.
In 2021-22, we are using lessons learnt about how technology can ensure rapid progress within our day-to-day teaching practice. As well as this, we continue to use technology in sophisticated ways that help us to blur the boundaries between learning in school and at home. Furthermore, we have detailed contingency plans in place, which means that we are confident that we will be able to respond effectively in the event of any partial or total closure of schools in the future.
Further Literacy Development
Whilst literacy development is already identified as a key priority for the school, there is now an even greater focus upon this as a consequence of the loss of learning time. The introduction of the ‘Reciprocal Reading’ approach is a significant development in providing young people with a strategy that they can internalise and then apply to enable them to extract meaning from complex texts.
In addition to the adaptations to teacher planning to provide additional literacy support, we provide a comprehensive support programme for students identified as requiring further intervention.
Focused and High-Impact Intervention
Even though we are ensuring excellent delivery in lessons, the loss of learning time means that it is important for schools to look at where additional time may be found. As a school, we have and will achieve this in a variety of ways including extending the school day and running intervention sessions that take place outside of curriculum time.
Crucially, all intervention that takes place is carefully coordinated to ensure it will have a significant impact on precisely identified areas of lost learning. In this way, we are confident that our approach will ensure our young people are supported to fulfil their enormous potential.
As indicated above, we have extended our core school learning hours to provide the capacity to carry out high-quality intervention. As well as lessons that have been scheduled at the end of our regular school day, carefully planned holiday intervention programmes also take place, targeting individual students who are identified as requiring this approach.
In addition to the high-quality intervention that is delivered by our existing teaching staff, the school has also developed a programme of one-to-one intervention staffed by intervention tutors who have been specifically employed for this role, using the dedicated funding from the government allocated to this purpose. Our intervention tutors work with a range of students, focusing particularly on those in Year 11 and Year 13 who need additional support to prepare them for their external examinations this summer.
By using our team of intervention tutors to work with disadvantaged students and those with weak literacy skills, we ensure that all of our students are given an opportunity to maximise their potential.
Social and Emotional Needs
Ultimately, our priority as a school is to support our young people to thrive and they can only do so when they are happy and secure. We recognise that our young people have had many different experiences over recent months and that we must provide a wide variety of support to ensure a positive return to day-to-day education. Thinking about the needs of all students and the specific needs of individuals is at the heart of our recovery approach and the school has extensive pastoral and welfare support in place to allow this.