Catching up with lost study time this summer
“Some of the new initiatives that have emerged during the pandemic may be here to stay”
According to recent reports, children in England are three months behind in their studies after lockdown measures, and while schools have worked hard to help their pupils keep up to date with their studying, many parents will view the summer holidays as a good time to help their children catch up.
For many international students, the summer months are traditionally an opportunity to come to the UK for an academic or cultural education experience. Pat Moores of UK Education Guide explains what schools are planning.
A few schools are still planning to offer some limited summer provision. Taunton International will be running their pre-sessional course from 22nd August-5th September.
Meanwhile, St Clare’s in Oxford, is still running its range of summer schools with the message “book with confidence”. The school is not taking deposits, will give refunds for any fees paid if the reason is Covid-related, offers a quarantine package, and excursions will be local to Oxford.
However, the pandemic has forced many other providers to cancel summer schools altogether while others have pivoted their face to face programs to attract UK students rather than international students.
One UK summer school provider, UK Guardians, is offering summer foreign language development programs for UK-based pupils who would normally go abroad to study French or Spanish.
But what about international students who would normally come to the UK over the summer?
A move online has been the key feature of how the summer school sector has responded to the pandemic.
As an international short course provider, Oxford Summer Courses (OxSC) has had to move provision online.
“We’re committed to helping students make up for learning loss which has occurred as a result of the lockdown – not just locally, but for pupils around the world,” says CEO Harry Hortyn.
Over the past year, the company has developed more opportunities to support students, including the launch of their online learning platform, Melio Education, which offers a distinct way of learning compared to the online classroom environment with which most pupils have become very familiar.
“Melio Education is set up for pupils to learn the ‘Oxford’ way. It aims to replicate the face to face summer course learning experience that OxSC usually offers, but online,” says Hortyn.
“The Melio courses are modelled on the prestigious tutorial system that have earned the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge worldwide recognition. One-on-one tutorials, small seminar groups filled with interesting discussions, and regular, detailed feedback make up the academic timetables.”
Meanwhile, demand for online tutoring has been increasing since the first lockdown and looks set to continue this summer.
“Traditionally, the summer holidays see a slow down in demand for tutoring,” says Ed Richardson, director of education at Keystone Tutors, although this year he adds that “many pupils who were unable to return from overseas to enjoy face-to-face teaching this spring will again be looking to top up their learning again this summer.”
According to Jenny McGowan, Keystone’s director for Asia, the summer of 2020 saw “a sustained demand, particularly from Singapore and Hong Kong”.
Keystone expects many families will again request one-to-one online tutoring to match what was being taught at school.
It also expects their offer of online group courses for GCSE catch up and webinars on how to prevent summer learning loss and how to use the time to get ahead with university preparation will continue to be popular this summer.
So while traditional summer school providers are unable to offer their usual face-to-face offering to international students some of the new initiatives that have emerged during the pandemic may be here to stay.
“It is clear that boarding schools, summer schools, agents and guardians are all responding flexibly and helping students continue to learn and progress even in these difficult circumstances,” says Caroline Nixon, director of BAISIS.
“And while we all hope for some normality to resume, some of these new initiatives, notably the development of high quality online learning, will benefit many pupils ongoing and enhance rather than detract from their learning.”
About the author: Pat Moores is the director and co-founder of UK Education Guide.