Helping to catch up: The Attain Programme

The pandemic has negatively impacted many areas of our society, but a major worry is the widening of the attainment gap. The Latymer Foundation wants to help local schools by providing catch up support for those children who have fallen furthest behind as a result of repeated lockdowns, and so we recently launched our Attain programme. 

Recent lockdown research from the Sutton Trust showed that the most deprived schools were reporting considerably greater concerns about students’ home learning environment and digital access to lessons; attendance affected by internet access; and lower quality of work submitted than usual. Given these disparities, the Education Endowment Foundation projected that the progress made over the last decade to close the attainment gap would be reversed, with a widening of the attainment gap by around 36%. Its most current findings confirm that primary school pupils have significantly lower achievement in reading and maths, with a “large and concerning” gap between students from disadvantaged backgrounds and their non-disadvantaged peers.

During the first national lockdown Latymer reached out to its network of partner schools and Attain was born out of this collaboration during the Summer of 2020. “The feedback was overwhelming,” says David Goodhew. “When we asked Heads what we could meaningfully do to support them and their pupils through this pandemic, the feedback was unanimous: support with English and maths to pupils in small groups to help them catch up with the learning they had lost out on as a result of the disruptions to their education.” 

The primary school pupils involved in Attain have been nominated by their class teachers. They have been selected on the basis of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on them and their education. Each child will receive up to 15 hours of catch up support in Maths and English from a dedicated tutor who will work with a small group of 3-4 children. The tutors are teachers from not only Latymer, but also St Paul’s Girls’ School and St Paul’s. 

Thanks to the generous support of our donors so far, this tutoring provision is being offered free of charge to the 13 partner schools involved in the first phase. 

The feedback from the children involved has been extremely positive. Deontay, aged 10, said: “I am really enjoying the programme, particularly the teaching style and approach. I think I have improved my reading already and we are only a few sessions in! I feel much more confident because the teacher is so approachable. I am really happy.”

Michael Schumm, Headteacher at St. Stephen’s CE Primary School in West London said:  “This has been the most challenging time I’ve known in all my years of teaching. There has been so much disruption for our pupils and we are all working so hard to help them through this. As well as supporting their health and wellbeing we are doing everything we can to help them catch up on their learning; but it is a huge task, which is why I’m so very grateful to Latymer Upper School for offering this incredible support. I really appreciated being asked what would make the most impact and they really listened. The support is very much tailored to what we and our pupils need and they’ve taken the time to match their teacher with mine. We are thrilled to be one of the first schools to get the programme up and running which means that our pupils can reap the benefits and catch up as quickly as possible.”

Attain has had such a positive impact already that we want to expand our provision to more primary schools and into some local secondary schools. Please help us to ensure that young people in our local area don't fall irreversibly behind with their education due to the effects of this pandemic.