Following the lockdown on March 23rd 2020 due to the Coronavirus/COVID 19 pandemic, pupils at Westgate Academy have had to adapt as learners and rely on home schooling, remote teacher support and a reduced amount of face to face teaching from their class teacher. This inevitably meant that many children have gaps in their knowledge from the previous year group when they returned to school in September 2020. Since then, the school has experienced an additional extensive closure between 4th January 2021-8th March 2021 as a part of a second national lockdown in England.
At Westgate Academy, we have constructed a ‘catch-up’ plan to ensure children catch up on any lost learning time and potential gaps in knowledge. This plan will focus on quality first teaching, empowering our team of teachers by providing high quality training, specific year group ‘gap’ filling, classroom intervention and small group targeted support with the child’s health and well-being at the centre of all we do.
In addition, we know that the Educational Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) Teaching and Learning Toolkit ranks strategies by the “extra months” of pupil progress they secure and topping their chart is metacognition, which has “consistently high levels of impact, with pupils making an average of eight months’ additional progress” each year.
What is metacognition?
Metacognition is not simply “thinking about thinking”, it is much more complex than this. Metacognition is actively monitoring one’s own learning and, based on this monitoring, making changes to one’s own learning behaviours and strategies. We know that the teacher is integral to the development of younger pupils’ metacognitive skills which is one of the main reasons for including metacognition on our School Improvement Plan using the Lesson Study tool as the vehicle to role this out as a whole school initiative. We see this running alongside the catch-up programme.
What is the ‘catch-up’ premium funding?
The government has announced £1 billion of funding to support children and young people to catch up. This includes a one-off universal £650 million catch-up premium for the 2020 to 2021 academic year to ensure that schools have the support they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time. Schools should use this funding for specific activities to support their pupils to catch up for lost teaching over the previous months and have the flexibility to spend their funding in the best way for their children and circumstances.
Westgate Academy has been allocated approximately £34,500 for additional ‘catch-up’ funding for academic year 2020/21 to support interventions designed to close gaps in attainment for this academic year.
How will spending decisions about interventions be made?
Since September, Senior leaders in the school have been following best practice guidance documents and approaches published by the DfE (Department for Education) and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to ensure the additional funding is directed in the most effective way. Approaches taken by the school will be driven by our detailed knowledge of children’s current attainment and will draw upon approaches that are evidence-based that are proven to have a positive impact on closing gaps.
We have decided to focus on Mathematics attainment, primarily, to best support our pupils as assessments in the Autumn Term showed that stamina, mathematic retrieval and reasoning required development. In addition to this, the school have also employed an additional Teaching Assistant in Year 3 to support small groups of pupils in their first year at Westgate Academy.