Teachers made thousands of phone calls a week to help children in lockdown

Simon Elliott is CEO of the Community Schools Trust and headteacher at Forest Gate Community School

Simon Elliott is headteacher at Forest Gate Community School and CEO of the Community Schools Trust. - Credit: Community Schools Trust

Leaders at two Newham schools made 3,000 phone calls a week to children who could not log on to online lessons during lockdown.

Staff from Cumberland and Forest Gate Community schools have managed to keep attendance at 90 per cent by making thousands of calls to students who miss learning and even visiting those who are struggling the most at home.

The schools, run by the Community Schools Trust (CST), have had attendance three times higher than  the average in working class areas (26 per cent) and double that of middle-class students (40pc), according to a report from the Sutton Trust.

Simon Elliott, CEO of the Community Schools Trust and headteacher of Forest Gate Community School, said children have “struggled” but are looking forward to being back in the classroom on March 8.

“Once students get back into lessons I believe we will see their mindsets and mental health improving,” he said.


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“We saw it after the first lockdown when they came back and we got a real sense that the children wanted to be in school.”

This year GCSE and A-level results will be based on teacher graded assessments after exams were cancelled.

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Mr Elliot added: “At the start of the pandemic there were problems and we had to get laptops out to kids. We have parents who have no recourse to public funds who we have supported.

"I really feel for some of our parents and students because they have struggled so much. But we have done everything we can to support them and importantly, made sure they are submitting their work online. There are some around the country who will not have had that support so there is going to be some disparity.”

An online tool which was developed by the CST that has helped students stay up to date with learning during school closures has now been nominated for an award.

The Dynamic Progress Report (DPR) was shortlisted for the BETT 2021 learning, teaching and assessment award.

The online portal was created by CST’s deputy CEO Shofiquez Zaman and helps track student progress in real time to make sure they are staying up to-date with their work.

It means parents can make sure their child is not falling behind by logging on to the portal to check they have completed key pieces of work.

Mr Zaman said: “’DPR not only empowered teachers and school leaders during the ordinary school days, it has been instrumental to our schools during the lockdown.

“It allowed us to continue teaching the school curriculum, carry out high quality teaching and learning and in return achieved a high level of student engagement and motivation. For example, our attendance is significantly higher than both the private and the state school average.

“Over 90 per cent of our students across our trust log into DPR more than five times a week. It’s been nothing short of a game changer.”

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