By Owen Sheppard, local democracy reporter
A West London private school has taken the unusual step of offering free tuition to state school pupils who have fallen behind during the lockdown.
Across the country it is believed children’s education has suffered while classes have been held online and parents have homeschooled their kids.
But since January, teachers from Latymer Upper School – whose alumni includes Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman – have been making a difference by giving extra maths and English tuition to local kids in years five and six.
Pupils receiving the catch-up sessions, held remotely, have been nominated by their normal class teachers to get three 30-minute sessions a week in small groups of four.
One child taking part is Bethel, age 11, from St Stephen’s Primary School in Shepherd’s Bush.
Bethel said: “My classmates and I are finding school very hard in lockdown so I’m really enjoying this tutoring opportunity I was given, as well as the others in the group.
“I know they are enjoying it too. They help a lot.”
Latymer’s head, David Goodhew, felt “compelled” to help disadvantaged children, whose learning is more likely to be stunted by the lockdown than kids from wealthier families.
“The disadvantage gap, like holiday hunger and the digital divide, pre-dates Covid-19 and will sadly outlast it,” he said.
“The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated these problems.”
Mr Goodhew also enlisted the heads of two other private schools – St Paul’s in Richmond and St Paul’s Girls’ Schools in Brook Green – to offer the catch-up sessions, as part of their jointly-run Attain programme.
Together they are helping children from 13 West London schools, five of which started taking part in the Attain programme this week.
Mr Goodhew added: “When we asked [local] headteachers what we could meaningfully do to support them and their pupils through this pandemic, the feedback was unanimous: support with English and maths to pupils in small groups to help them catch up with the learning they had lost out on.”
Michael Schumm, the head of St Stephen’s Primary School, said: “This has been the most challenging time I’ve known in all my years of teaching.
“There has been so much disruption for our pupils and we are all working so hard to help them through this.
“I’m so very grateful to Latymer Upper School for offering this incredible support.
“I really appreciated being asked what would make the most impact and they really listened.”
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