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Addressing the ‘Summer Slide’

SP Tutors has been approved by the National Tutoring Programme to deliver summer tuition for Summer 2021. Our intensive in-school tuition programmes are set to tackle the traditional ‘summer slide’ – where some pupils return to school in September having lost learning over the summer and start from a position of ‘catch-up’ in relation to their peers.

We are all familiar (either as parents or educationalists) with the sinking feeling some pupils experience as their thoughts turn towards the new school year. Why is this? There are a number of contributing factors:

Some pupils haven’t seen friends over the summer break, so meeting up again with peers in September can cause some anxiety – pupils wonder whether friendship groups will be the same, whether they have missed out on summer activities, whether they’ll have interesting things to contribute to the back-to-school conversations and whether they’ll have the right equipment, phone, footwear to blend in with peers.

Some pupils will have had cultural stimulus (such as visiting museums, community events, new places/cultures) as well as opportunities to access learning activities such as reading, writing, school projects etc. But, many pupils will not have had access to learning opportunities over the holidays. They will not have had academic or cultural stimuli over the summer break; their opportunities for writing, reading and vocabulary acquisition have been diminished and therefore they go back to school at a lower level of attainment than when they left in July.

Research shows that pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds are disproportionately impacted by summer learning loss and the ‘summer slide’ can cause a three month gap between them and their peers.

Some pupils will be anxious about finding their way around new buildings, new classrooms, new routines, new homework requirements and meeting new teachers.

No wonder, therefore, that some pupils are anxious about starting back in September. Every new academic year, they have spent the first few months ‘catching back up’ to where they were before – which has a detrimental impact on their confidence and self-esteem.

What can we do about this?

Evidence shows that summer schools can provide the necessary academic and cultural learning opportunities that pupils need to maintain the level of attainment. Small group, academic tuition focused on Maths and English partnered with cultural activities like sport, music, drama, museum visits and art academic and cultural capital pupils may otherwise have missed out on.

“….up to 4 months’ additional progress if the summer school offers small group tuition led by highly-trained and experienced teaching staff”


Peer-to-peer relationships can strengthen through summer schools which build and develop year group communities, foster a sense of belonging and improve pupil well-being and mental health. Furthermore, summer schools offer opportunities to develop metacognitive skills and self-regulation.

School can offer summer school opportunities with a mix of academic and cultural focuses, goal setting, summer projects and work on parental engagement.

Removing barriers to summer school provision

Effective use of funding streams

Summer activities and small tuition is traditionally available only those pupils whose parents can afford to pay for such provision. This year, however, the DfE has two funds that support the summer schools offer:

National Tutoring Programme – 75% subsidy on academic tuition

Summer School Programme – funding available to secondary schools for all year groups, but with an emphasis on new Year 7 pupils. Schools must offer a mix of academic and enrichment activities, according to the needs of their pupils

  • Catch-up funding
  • Pupil premium funding
  • Recovery premium

Read more: Summer schools guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Wrap-around care for parents

Particularly for younger pupils, working parents may struggle to take up summer school placements because they need full day childcare in the summer holidays. By coupling small group tuition with enrichment activities, pupils can benefit from a range of learning opportunities and be kept entertained and safe for an entire working day. If you don’t already, why not partner with a tuition partner, and sports/drama/art provider to increase staff capacity.

Activity space, staffing and resources

If school space and human resource is an issue, as well as using out-sourced staffing (tutors/sports leaders) consider partnering with a neighbouring school – provide a carousel of activities on one school site to pool resources. Pupils can be kept in their ‘school bubbles’ and sufficient time can be given between activities to provide comfort breaks and clean down between groups.

recent review of 13 studies which looked at over 50,000 students suggested that they experience an average summer learning loss estimated to equal about one month of the academic year. The effect of the summer holidays is typically more detrimental for Maths, which is possibly due to the limited availability of math practice outside of formal school settings.

InnerDrive – Read more
Start September with confidence