The summer holidays are possibly the most important six weeks of the school year! The hardest times in anyone’s education are the times of change and the toughest of all is the move from primary to secondary. In a recent article in TES Michael Tidd, a primary school deputy head, not only refers to the exhaustion caused by the well intentioned “winding down” activities of the final half term as a primary school pupil, but also the introductory period at secondary as actually making a bad situation even worse for new year 7s. He argues that schools need to work harder to “make the transition better than it is” but secondary schools are quick to point out that they may be receiving pupils from ten different schools. Tidd concludes that “We need to work harder at transition. Children are being left to struggle and there is so much we could do to help. But we don’t.”
Every summer we offer a special summer programme to help children through one of the toughest times of their school lives. We aim to work our magic!
What would we wish for our children at these times, if their fairy godmother came knocking?
- Confidence - to step forward into the new school year.
- Self-belief – that they can cope with the new school community – it is lucky to have them!
- Subject skills - to handle the abrupt return to work after the long break following SATs.
- Study skills - to arrange and prioritise the demands of work in the new school year.
This is what is on offer during the summer holidays. The summer boost gives exactly the help that students need to refocus and then move their learning forward as they are supported by specialist staff in a small, friendly group, at their MagiKats centre. With a bit of luck they may even meet someone from another primary who is soon to be their secondary classmate!
They take home sheets printed just for them, to help them polish up on those rusty skills.
The challenges caused by the school summer holidays
Professors Brent Davies and Trevor Kerry, from the International Educational Leadership Centre at the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside report on challenges caused by the school calendar (The Role of Calendar Innovation in Improving Learning in Schools) identifies the “Summer learning loss” as peaking at around age 12, with both English and, especially, maths suffering. They quote the following conclusions from fellow researcher Cooper:
- At best, students show little or no academic growth over the summer; and at worst, they lose on average between one and three months’ learning.
- Summer learning loss is greatest in mathematics.
- Computation and spelling are the individual skills more affected by over-long summer breaks.
- Factual and procedural knowledge is more prone to decay than conceptual understanding.
Time to step in and help
If our schools have not yet found a way to help these poor kids then this has to be a time for parents to step in and find them the extra help to rise to the challenges ahead. Regular MagiKats students automatically benefit from the consistency and continuity of their summer programme and the back to school boosters. Some others may be in luck if there are spaces still at their local MagiKats Tuition Centre for the summer holidays and beyond. Take a look on www.magikats.co.uk/find-a-centre to check what is on offer.
By Jan Lomas, Curriculum Director at MagiKats HQ