Newham schoolchildren enjoy holiday activities as part of programme pilot

Earlham Primary School pupils

Earlham Primary School pupils enjoyed the Easter holiday HAF programme pilot, alongside children at Winsor Primary School - Credit: Earlham Primary School

Schoolchildren have enjoyed a range of outdoor enrichment activities over the Easter holiday as part of a pilot programme in Newham and across the country. 

After receiving a portion of £220 million in grants made available by the Department of Education for local authorities, Newham Council partnered with "a small group" of school and voluntary sector organisations to try out a Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) scheme over the Easter break.

Pupils were given breakfast and lunch, and could take part in a range of activities such as bushcraft, woodwork and cooking.

Two schools participating in the pilot were Winsor and Earlham primary schools.

James Dawson, headteacher at Winsor, said the Beckton school worked with outdoor education centre Fairplay House to provide bushcraft-themed sessions such as clay sculpting, planting, archery, air and water-powered rocket making, bridge and boat building and pancake cooking.

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He said: “Often children have to wait for their one residential week in Year 5 to do these types of activities, but this grant has given us a fantastic opportunity to provide some exciting activities to accompany work linked to the curriculum.

"It has raised the collective enthusiasm of my staff who developed a programme of experiences that many children wouldn’t ordinarily get."

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Many Winsor staff stepped up to be involved during the term break in order to give children a time to remember.

Earlham Primary School, in Forest Gate, normally provides holiday fun days, but the HAF Easter funding pilot saw its offering expanded.

More than 100 children - a quarter of Earlham's student population and 22 per cent of whom had special educational needs and disabilities - joined the programme.

Earlham headteacher Natalie Robinson said: "This is an opportunity to give children those ‘lost experiences’ that Covid and lockdown interrupted.

"While schools did open for three weeks, we have been focussed on teaching and learning our full curriculum with a particular focus on those who really need learning support.”

Pupils who got involved at Earlham were offered street dance, art, maths puzzles, boxing, oracy and teambuilding workshops, games and more.

Ms Robinson added: “We want to enable children to have social and active experiences and this means no screens.

"Our programme is about having fun together, having new experiences, which we have all missed so much this past year.”

Newham Council is aiming for a wider roll-out of the programme over the summer holidays.

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