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Howden School

Howden School


Catch Up

Howden School Approach to catch up: 

As a school we decided early on that we did not want to use the term “catch up” at Howden School. Catch up is something you do when you have fallen behind, when you are losing the race, when failure is a threatened. Our focus instead would be on looking forward, at what we could to do as a school to get our young people where they want to be … let’s make progress… let’s get better at this… 

We knew that making our students feel more stressed, telling them they are really far behind, that they have to do more than normal, work harder than normal would only add to anxiety for some students. It could cause more problems than it solved. 

We also knew that well-being and mental health issues would potentially need more support than ever before. As such the panic setting of exam and telling the students they were going to fail because of the pandemic was never going to help our students, as such we rejected these approaches. 

We rejected the idea of examining students as soon as they returned to school as it would simply lead to more lost learning time. We also felt it was wrong to drop PE or careers in favours of more core lessons because we recognise the importance of exercise on health and mental health. We recognise the need for student to be prepared for the work of work.  

It was also clear a 1 size fits all approach would be unhelpful. Not everyone would need the same types/level of support. It would potentially be deeply harmful to force students to take additional classes to cover subject matter they had already covered during lockdown. 

Some parents/carers actively contacted us with this as a major concern. They told us their child worked so hard during lock down “general catch up” would actually do more harm than good.          

Finally, it will come as no surprise that it is entirely “normal” for students to come back after the school summer holidays and they have forgotten work/knowledge. In fact “summer learning loss” has been well documented and discussed for many years (decades). 

The reality is our teachers check knowledge and fill in gaps in knowledge all the time and have done so for years (in some cases many years). We are used to identifying students who need more support because we do it every year. We have the systems in place and expertise. 

Below is a break-down of our strategic approach to the issues and problems the pandemic has generated. 

We have identified and planned 3 stages of action: 

STAGE 1 Recovery and development  
STAGE 2 – Deployment and adaptation to blended learning 
STAGE 3 – Moving towards Living with Covid 

STAGE 1 Recovery and development  

Subject leaders and teachers discussed and documented what had been covered before Lockdown 1 and what had been delivered during the 1st lockdown. All teaching moving forward was then remapped for all year groups with this in mind. Our teaching staff know what they needed to deliver to the students and they are aware where there are possible gaps in learning which need to be addressed. 

Next, we asked staff to design and incorporate regular low stakes assessments into every lesson. This information helps us to identify gaps in learning quickly in lessons and allow students to make rapid progress from all starting points. 

Learning was adapted to be effective whilst working under covid safe rules. New equipment was purchased where required and new systems and procedures implemented to ensure our Curriculum could be as fully implemented as possible. 

Training for staff and students was delivered to enable blended learning to be delivered over Microsoft Teams if bubbles needed to isolate. 

Teaching and learning packs were purchased for each student to remove potential barriers to learning. 

We began enrolling students into the National tutoring programme. 

IT equipment, laptops, ipads were secured to ensure every student had access to Teams. 

Our teaching staff used our “focus 5” approach to support the students who needed the most help in lessons. 

Our pastoral teams used the new systems to identify students in need of additional support, tackling attendance issues and barriers to learning.   

STAGE 2 - Deployment and adaptation to blended learning  

During the 2nd and 3rd lockdowns the school remained open supporting as many students as possible. 

New systems were designed to track student engagement with remote learning. 

Targeted intervention was deployed to support students who could improve their engagement. 

New rewards system were implemented to support remote learning. 

The pastoral staff began tracking and supporting their “pastoral 10 students”. 

STAGE 3 – Moving towards Living with Covid 

New bespoke Curriculum subjects have been designed to further enhance/accelerate the students learning experience and facilitate catch up. Life Long Learning. 

Tutor time has been reintroduced and redesigned. The time is being used to fully support the school values and the catch-up philosophy. 

After school clubs and sports have been relaunched and new clubs introduced. 

After school study support have been planned and scheduled to support learners. 

Specific study support aids have been purchased, revision guides, GCSE pod etc 

We are very proud of the work our students produced this year, the attendance both physical and virtual has been excellent. Our students have worked very hard and they have learnt a range of skills they would not have experienced without the pandemic. It is our belief, based on evidence that our students have not significantly fallen, they have worked well and motivated to improve further.