Suspending Ofsted inspections until 2021 and encouraging retired teachers to volunteer would help disadvantaged children ‘catch up’ when schools reopen, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has said.
As SchoolsWeek reports, researchers from the think-tank are concerned that poorer children could fall ‘seriously’ and further behind due to school closures and disruption to the economy. They say it would wipe out more than a ‘decade’s progress’ in closing the gap in education.
The EPI has published a set of recommendations for the government, asking for a ‘catch up plan’ to offer vital support for pupils whose learning has been put on hold during lockdown.
One recommendation is for Ofsted inspections, currently on hold until the end of summer at least, to be paused until the end of the autumn term, with the possibility of a further extension.
The company has also called for a one-year national Teacher Volunteer Scheme, aimed at inactive and retired teachers who may want to volunteer in order to help schools support disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. These plans were initially presented by education select committee chair Robert Halfon.
EPI suggested the scheme could work through a website where teachers enter their skills and interests, then schools in need could reach out to them. It would be similar to the current NHS volunteer initiative.
Therefore, the EPI is suggesting the government allocate £500m to double pupil premium rates for a minimum of a year for pupils in reception, in years 6 and 10 who are facing transition or national exams, as well as looked-after children.
Schools should be allowed to use the extra funding however they see fit, for instance on supply teachers or tuition from providers.
Executive director at the EPI, Natalie Perera, said the premium increase could provide teachers with the resources they need “to implement proven interventions which can raise the attainment of disadvantaged children.”
Talking at education questions last week, education secretary Gavin Williamson said he is looking “very closely” at ways to make sure children are able to catch up.
He didn’t share any further details but stressed that his department is examining how to utilise the “enormous goodwill that is held by the British public to help support children to be able to make sure that they don’t miss out as a result of the crisis.”