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Charities join forces to deliver Covid catch-up classes in schools

TWO charities have joined forces to launch a Covid Catch-up programme for some of the most disadvantaged pupils in Bedfordshire. 

The Harpur Trust and the Connolly Foundation are working in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire to deliver the programme in which trainee teachers will deliver catch-up sessions in schools during the summer term.

The Institute for Fiscal studies estimates that disadvantaged pupils could have lost as much as two-thirds of a year in learning due to the pandemic. The government has already committed £1.7 billion to a nationwide tutoring programme and summer schools.

However, educationalists have called for more to be done to support disadvantaged pupils. They also want schools to have greater control over the way in which the funding is used. The hope is that this programme could help to bridge the gap for pupils in Bedfordshire.

A spokesperson for the charities said “We are determined that the pupils hardest hit by the pandemic should receive as much support as possible to enable them to catch up with their learning and have the best possible chance to fulfil their potential.

“Our programme is not a generic tutoring package and so will provide schools with real ownership over what the pupils learn, how and when. We wanted our scheme to be as bespoke as possible and we have been working hard to match up students with schools to ensure the best fit.”

The scheme, which began this week (April 12), is free. “We hope it will add further support where it is most needed,” said the spokesperson. 

It will offer trainee teachers an opportunity to earn after months where many of them have been unable to work in their usual part-time jobs.

Juliet Fern, executive dean for the University of Bedfordshire’s Faculty of Education and Sport, said: “It will provide them with more experience in schools, working on a range of teaching and learning activities. It will also prepare them for their future work in schools, supporting pupils to achieve while recognising the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Kelli Foster, headteacher at Mark Rutherford Upper School in Bedford, said: “The pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the education of young people. This programme will enable us to support our students who need to catch up academically after two periods of remote learning in the last calendar year.”

A total 24 trainee teachers are delivering the catch-up sessions, having been placed by the charities and local employment agency Allstaff Recruitment.

Director Tracey Finch said: “We take great pride working in conjunction with charitable trusts and businesses to support local community projects.  It is our privilege to work in partnership with the Harpur Trust, the Connolly Foundation and the University of Bedfordshire on this community project.”

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