Funding is now available for summer schools, but how will leaders be organising them? Grainne Hallahan finds out in this Tes article. 

The six-week summer break is a sacred cow in schools. But after a year of disruption, many headteachers will be putting that to one side to take up the Department for Education’s offer of funding for summer schools.

The deadline for registering interest is 7 May, and schools have to do this via the Department for Education’s official form.

Although schools are free to invite any secondary school student to attend summer school, the advice is to focus on Year 7 and those most in need of the support.

The guidance states: “It is for schools to determine which pupils would most benefit from a summer school. We expect, however, that most will want to focus this provision primarily on pupils making the transition into Year 7.”

The amount of funding that schools receive will depend on how many students attend, and the type of school. Funding will be calculated using the number of Year 7 students, with £590 per pupil in a mainstream school and £1,719 per pupil in a special educational needs or alternative-provision school.

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How summer schools will be used to boost Covid catch-up

So how will summer schools work for students? We spoke to school leaders about their choices.

‘We want to build relationships between our staff and the new students’

“We’ve run summer schools in the past for our Year 6 into Year 7 group, and this year we will be making it really amazing with a balance of art and drama, as well as English and maths, to give them some really nice experiences in the building.

“We’re going to staff it with our own staff: in the past, we’ve never been short of teachers volunteering to be paid to run sessions. We want to work on building relationships between our staff and the new students, as this is the transformative bit where we onboard the new students with their teachers and head of year. It will give us a chance to give them an injection of the ‘Harris way’.

“The aim this year is to invite everyone, and we’ll be using our classrooms and facilities. We will also have some current Year 7 mentors there to help show the new students around.”

Nick Soar is the executive principal at Harris Federation Academy Tottenham, an all-through school, and Harris Academy St John’s Wood, an 11-18 school, both in North London

‘There will be a community feel’

“We will focus on the transition of new Year 7s and also include current Year 7s who will have had the process disrupted by the pandemic and cycle of lockdowns.  

“It will be staffed with Atlantic Academy staff, and the focus on transition allows us to create a strong foundation for these children and their academic journey.

“We currently expect to spend a portion of the day on improving the core English and maths knowledge of students and then for the remaining sessions to focus around wellbeing and ensuring a happy transition for the children. 

“This will include taking part in a community beach clean, art projects, sports and linking up with businesses on the island. There will be a community feel to the summer school and the last day will see a family barbecue organised. The school is part of a small community and it’s ultimately about serving the community through helping the children with their academic journey.’’

Tasha Board is the careers and vocational lead at Atlantic Academy in Portland, Dorset, an all-through school from 4-16

‘We want to restore students’ self-confidence and recreate positivity’

“Our summer school will be taking place in a local residential centre where the students can take part in a range of outdoor and adventurous activities, thereby promoting mental health, self-confidence, resilience, self-esteem, wellbeing and academic achievement.

“Our focus will be on rebuilding our children who have lost out during lockdown. We want to restore their self-confidence and recreate positivity. The students chosen to take part in the summer school will be chosen by their teachers to identify those most in need.

“Following an analysis of data, we feel that poor mental health is a major concern for some of our most vulnerable learners. We hope that through the summer school we will be able to address these concerns by offering academic and enrichment activities.”

Gary Smith is executive headteacher of Market Field School, a day special school in Essex for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 who experience moderate learning difficulties.