The government has issued a press release to announce £200m of funding for summer schools and activities at secondary schools across England. It is to be targeted at those who have suffered the most disruption to their education during the lockdown. The plans will begin to be rolled out after the Easter break.
The scheme will include academic support as well as sporting activities, and also mental health and wellbeing advice. The government also intends to work with a national supply contractor to give extra support for councils to deliver the Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), which will be expanded over the summer.
HAF is a scheme which involves charities, councils, sporting organisations, and the voluntary sector, designed to ease pressure points on families who are experiencing increased childcare costs and reduced incomes. Children from disadvantaged families are less likely to access out-of-school activities, and can miss out on nutritious food during the holidays.
Charities such as Family Action work to deliver family-friendly holiday activities such as food preparation, physical activity, and arts and crafts. They also provide free and nutritious meals. During last summer’s HAF programme, 50,000 children received support across 17 local authorities.
After the Easter break, the programme is set to launch in every council in England, with a focus on those primary school children who are eligible for free school meals. The intention is to prepare the incoming year 7 group for the experience of secondary school in September, who may have missed out on key opportunities over the past year.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I am confident this summer of enrichment and engagement in academic work will be a great success, tailored to local circumstances by their local authorities and also the wonderful heads and teachers who best understand the needs of their students.”
The Department of Education has also published the Conditions of Grant for schools and local authorities on the 30 March. This provides guidance on how to use the Pupil Premium funding, which is expected to increase to £2.5bn over the next year. The fund is intended to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
To make sure the funding is being used to best advantage, schools will be required from September 2021 to publish an annual pupil premium strategy, and demonstrate with evidence why their spending decisions have been made.
Schools have been asked to sign up to run summer schools by the end of April, and confirm their plans by June. A two-week summer school has also been proposed for primary school pupils who will be entering secondary education in September, to help ease the transition at what can be a difficult time for some children.
The operation of the HAF scheme has been affected by the lockdown restrictions over Easter, but some areas have managed to offer face-to-face activities, and others have provided remote support. To help vulnerable families over the Easter period, they have also been able to access the extended £229m Covid Winter Grant Scheme.
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