In a week when there was further easing of COVID restrictions, it was really wonderful to see Eleanor Palmer on school journey at South Sands in Devon, a great photo of children paddling in the sea, laughing and having fun, certainly a long way from home learning!

On Wednesday we were delighted to welcome Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation to our eighth Camden Conversation, titled Evidence for Recovery. Becky began by acknowledging that the impact of disrupted schooling over the past year will be long-lasting and wide-ranging. The point was made that unless decisive action is taken, some children are never going to catch up. EEF’s range of study and tools, is a promising start that will help get our children’s education back on track, but there are no quick fixes. Undoing the negative impact of the last 12 months will require an ambitious, consistent multi-year recovery plan. Becky stated that, ‘The strongest evidence for accelerating learning is for increasing time for high-quality teaching’. Targeted summer schools are one way to achieve this, and it’s helpful that schools will have flexibility to decide what will work best for them and their staff. Tutoring was also mentioned as a significant part in the recovery, with the government’s commitment to funding tutoring through the National Tutoring Programme beyond this academic year. This should help close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates.

All Camden Secondary schools have committed to running Summer Schools, primarily for those pupils transitioning from Year 6 to 7 as part of the crucial transition plan. I am inviting Primary schools to consider organising a summer camp for their school and pupils, these could link up with the Camden Holiday Activities Fund. Primary schools interested in running a summer programme could have access to funding for disadvantaged pupils, potentially drawing down on £2/3k from the Summer activity funding. It is a great opportunity for primary schools to offer a range of fun activities along with some targeted catch up whilst promoting good mental health and wellbeing. Contact me directly if you are interested.

Interestingly this week, I was sent a report on The Careers after Covid published by Launch Your Career, it revealed that 70% of secondary school students do not know or are unsure about what they want to do for a career when they leave school. Three-quarters of students (78%) admitted they are worried about making the right choice of career. The report also reveals that nearly half of secondary school teachers (48%) say their school’s ability to give careers advice to students has worsened since the start of the pandemic. One in five (19%) secondary school students say they have not received any advice from their school since the first lockdown over a year ago. Almost half of the students (47%) responding to the survey revealed that any advice they had been given had not been personalised to them. The news comes as students are already coping with disruption to learning, exams and friendships as a result of the pandemic. Furthermore, Covid-19 has hampered opportunities for work experience and one in four students (28%) revealed they had no practical experience of the working world, not even via a visiting speaker organised by their school.

Launch Your Career is an online and virtual reality experience for young people which provides careers guidance based on a student’s personality. Students use the tool to find out what makes them tick – whether they are an introvert or extrovert, whether they like to plan or are more of a seat of your pants type. Their spirit animal is unlocked based on their answers and they can see careers highlighted that might interest them.

 We have our Camden Learning Post 16 conference on the Tuesday 8th June where we will be discussing careers and pathways for young people, amongst other themes during the session.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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