Education recovery: What approaches do young people want to see?

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

A reduced curriculum, small group tutoring, more resources, a focus on mental health, and one-to-one support for students who need it – but no summer schools!

More than 5,000 secondary-age students have told schools and politicians just what they think education recovery should look like.

The School Catch-up Survey was run by the Jack Petchey Foundation and saw 5,297 responses from young people aged 11 to 19 living in Essex and London.

The most popular strategy for supporting young people as schools re-open fully from March 8 was a reduced curriculum (55 per cent), followed by small group tutoring (44 per cent), and more resources and text books (42 per cent).

Pastoral issues are also key for those responding, with 41 per cent prioritising mental health support. A further 36 per cent said that one-to-one support must be available for students who need it.

However, the government’s penchant for summer schools – for which it has this week ringfenced £200m in funding – is not popular at all. Only nine per cent said this would be a useful approach.

Student Sarina from Barking and Dagenham, who was among those to respond to the survey said: “It is important to reduce the curriculum and content of what we will be examined on next year as we have missed out on an extraordinary amount of time at school.”

Evie from Bromley, meanwhile, said: “Our mental health is more important than our school work and grades, and the challenges young people have had to face could leave a lasting impact on our lives.”

The students also revealed what they had missed most during the national lockdowns and periods of remote education – 66 per cent identified interactive learning, such as group work and exercises, while 54 per cent said they struggled to understand new content while learning remotely. Forty-one per cent said that they had no idea how well they are doing with their learning.

The Jack Petchey Foundation has now sent its findings to politicians across London and Essex in a bid to influence policy. Trudy Kilcullen, chief executive officer at the charity, said: “Covid-19 has impacted on every member of society. However, the impact on young people’s futures will be long-lasting. It is important that their voices be at the centre of decisions influencing our recovery as we rebuild a positive and constructive future.”


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