As schools close for the Easter break, I thought I’d share with you the ‘holidays’ that some staff are having. No – don’t worry, this post is not about sun and sea! It is about Easter School. This is the name that one school has given to the booster classes being held over the holidays.
It has come via the one-to-one funding given to schools to help boost those children who it is felt could reach that magic Level 4 in SATs but are still around the L3A mark. Some schools have arranged for weekly sessions for those identified children. In the example here, it was decided to run 4 mornings over the Easter holidays. With the large number of Bank Holidays, Spring Break and late Easter, it would be 21 days between lessons and for some that would be a break too long!
It is not just about the one-to-one tuition. Following their positive experience last year, the children are invited into school for the morning. When they arrive they have a cup of tea and a chance for a chat with friends. They then have an hour of intensive work. Elevenses bring more tea and cake to give energy for the next hour.
This school decided to extend the learning by providing lunch (prepared by the staff) and that might be sandwiches or even jacket potatoes or pizzas. Last year special meals were provided for a Malaysian girl who just couldn’t be tempted by the other fare on offer.
The reason for the refreshments, which are shared by staff as well, is based on the social and confidence building that is part of this scheme. For many children chosen, it is felt that their lack of progress is to a great part due to their lack of confidence and attitude to learning. Last year the summer term saw those children who had come along to Easter School making great progress not only in the basic English and Maths in class but right across the curriculum and school life in general.
Holidays are often assumed to be just what children need but sadly for many, there is little to keep them occupied so a couple of mornings at school provide a welcome relief from boredom. This year, Easter School gained an additional pupil who was a sure fired L5. She was however the friend of one of the girls coming along so asked if she could join ‘Cos I won’t have anyone to play with otherwise’.
It is really heartening to know that there is a broader consequence beyond improved results with these sort of initiatives. I have seen many of the teachers whose class blog I follow set work for pupils to do during the holidays. This has ranged from a holiday diary to specific pieces of research using the class blog to communicate with them. Perhaps the fact that many of the children do take part in these challenges shows that we need to look closely at the holiday experience they have. It should also question the relaxation that some teachers get at these times. That however, is a topic for another post!
Post Script: An article that explains the point above is well worth a read over at Tim Handley’s blog ‘Tales from a Newly Qualified Teacher’