Covid catch-up programme unveiled for Bedford schoolchildren

Scheme is free for schools and could be rolled out across UK if successful

Monday, 19th April 2021, 5:04 pm

Two charities have joined forces to launch a Covid catch-up programme for disadvantaged pupils that could be a model for other parts of the UK.

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

Harpur Trust chief executive, David Steadman, said: “With many schools struggling to find enough tutors with the right skills to help pupils catch up, this groundbreaking initiative taps into a new workforce - trainee teachers.

The Covid catch-up programme
The Covid catch-up programme

"Disadvantaged children get in-person help when and where they need it, and trainee teachers gain valuable paid classroom experience to kick start their careers. We believe that other parts of the UK where there are shortages of support could use this model to quickly help more local children.”

Nigel Croft, a trustee at the Connolly Foundation, 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."

David added: “Our programme isn’t 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’ve been working hard to match up students with schools to ensure the best fit.

The Covid catch-up programme

"Our scheme is completely free for the schools and we hope it will add further support where it is most needed.”

Kelli Foster, headteacher at Mark Rutherford Upper School, 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.

"We feel very fortunate to have been allocated a trainee teacher from the University of Bedfordshire. The strong partnership we have with both the Harpur Trust and Connolly Foundation, as well as our links with the university, will ensure we support our students most affected from being away from the classroom."

Twenty-four trainee teachers are delivering the catch-up sessions which have already begun.