Work ‘extra hours’ to help pupils catch up, says Wilshaw

A former chief inspector of Ofsted has called on teachers to work in schools at weekends and during the holidays, as one way of ensuring pupils catch up on lost learning. Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector between 2012 and 2016, made the comments on the Sky News Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme on Sunday 24 May.

Referring to recent research reports from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and from the Sutton Trust, which have suggested that disadvantaged children have missed out on the most learning during the school closure period, Sir Michael argued it would be important for schools to ensure a ‘recovery program’ was in place. ‘That means convincing teachers to work the extra hours, come in at weekends and holiday periods and really intensify work they do with youngsters, particularly in examination groups,’ he said.

Sir Michael also suggested that the government could have done more to ensure that parents were confident in sending their children back when schools reopen more fully. ‘The Government really should have spent that last three months preparing the ground well, holding meetings with the parent and teacher associations to make sure all the facts are there.’ he said, continuing ‘Transparency is absolutely critical and families who don't necessarily read all the research from the research bodies need something to go on to make that balanced judgment, and I am not sure they have received that.’

Sir Michael’s comments came as a poll for the Observer newspaper found that 43 per cent of primary school parents and 54 per cent of secondary school parents feel anxious about the prospect of children returning to school. Meanwhile education unions continue to raise concerns about the safety and practicality of the government’s plans for schools to reopen to more children from 1 June.

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