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University of Sunderland helping to ease children’s return to the classroom

Education experts from the University of Sunderland are helping to alleviate pressures as thousands of schoolchildren prepare to return to the classroom in September.

It comes after the Department for Education announced the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), designed to provide catch-up support to primary and secondary school pupils who may have missed out on learning during school closures caused by the pandemic.

A team from the university’s Faculty of Education and Society helped devise a special Catch up and Recovery course, aimed at trainee teachers, career returners and recently retired educators, supporting them so they are ready to sign up as tutors via the NTP.

The course has already started running at the university and is receiving positive feedback.

Professor Lynne McKenna, dean of the Faculty of Education and Society (pictured), said: “Schools and teachers have provided exceptional service to our children during lockdown and this should not go unrecognised. Teachers have provided face-to-face education for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, adapted to on-line teaching delivery, provided home support learning packs for children, maintained contact with their pupils and some schools have even delivered packed lunches.

“Parents likewise, have risen to the challenge of home schooling their children; many of whom have been balancing this with working from home themselves.

“While it will ultimately be a teachers responsibility to ensure children are not adversely affected by ‘learning loss’ when they fully return to school in September, any additional support for children, parents and schools is to be welcomed. This £1 billion catch-up package will help head teachers to provide extra support to those children who may have fallen behind while out of school.

“At the University of Sunderland, we pride ourselves at being at the fore-front of developments and the introduction of this short course will enable us to prepare applicants to support the National Tutoring programme”

Principal lectuere Mikeala Morgans has been leading on the new programme, along with colleagues Allison Wilson and Kirsty Bell.

She said: “Many children will have been away from school for up to six months when they return in September.

“We now know that the Government’s intention is that all pupils will return in September and it is incumbent on schools to ensure a coherent and supportive catch up plan is in place for them while providing pastoral support as they transition back into a school life that will, undoubtedly, look different to the one they left in March.

“The staff leading the course have a significant amount of experience in developing, running and evaluating intervention support in schools and have carefully researched both the concept of the Catch up and Recovery plan as well as the supporting research which underpins it from the Education Endowment Fund (EEF).

“The sessions that have run already have been excellent and give lots of opportunities for discussion as well as interactively sharing ideas and activities; participants have reflected this in their very positive feedback.

“The course really does give an insight into the plans for pupil support moving forward and perfectly positions participants to take on these important tutoring roles following what have been unprecedented times for a whole generation of school pupils.”