The Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson and Sevenoaks and Swanley MP Laura Trott have given their backing to the Invicta Summer Academy, which opens for pupils in Kent on Monday 27th July. The pop-up initiative which is completely free to use, will kick-start a month-long effort to help children catch up on missed schooling.
The Academy is the brainchild of former academy Governor and Sevenoaks District Councillor Anna Firth, and Folkestone primary school teacher Stephen James. They pair have recruited a team of willing volunteers and have gained the support of the majority of Kent MPs.
It’s now widely recognised that many children will need a helping hand to get ready to restart school in September. Sporting the motto ‘Veni Didici Vici’ – Latin for ‘We Came, We Learnt, We Conquered’ – the Academy will provide lessons for Key Stages 1 – 4 beginning on Monday 27th July, and finishing on Friday 28th August.
Weekly “aim high” sessions will be delivered by successful people from the worlds of sport, media, business and the arts to talk about their personal journeys and inspire children to stick with learning and return to school with confidence. Skeleton Bobsleigh double Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold kicks off the first session and Michelin starred TV Chef, Mark Sargeant, will explain in week 2, how to get to the top of his profession.
All lessons will run to a timetable through which parents and guardians can sign up their children via a website. It’s proving very popular and the numbers are growing daily with over 80 teachers and hundreds of students already registered.
Speaking about the Academy Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP said: “Activities which support the education and well-being of children will no doubt be beneficial ahead of their return to school in September. The pop-up online school, Invicta Summer Academy in Kent, is a great example of the community coming together to provide support for local children. This summer, schools can use their catch-up premium funding, part of our £1billion package, to set up summer schools. The Government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme is also running in 17 local authority areas and holiday clubs are able to open their doors to all children from the end of term.”
MP for Sevenoaks and Swanley Laura Trott said: “There will be many challenges to close the education gap that has emerged during the pandemic. Lost teaching time cannot be rectified overnight, but initiatives such as the Invicta Summer Academy will undoubtedly make a huge difference for children and families across Kent. It’s a remarkable programme, and if you know a child who could benefit, I urge you to get involved. Nothing can replace being in the classroom, however we must make sure pupils across Sevenoaks and Swanley are given the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential. This programme does exactly that.”
Chair of the Education Select Committee, Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP said: "The people behind this don't just talk about catch up or helping left behind students, they are doers, both innovative and committed. I congratulate and thank all those involved. The pupils who enrol will be given a chance to climb the education ladder of opportunity, once again."
Cllr Anna Firth explains: “We are all concerned about the effect of the necessary school closures on the education of our children and I feel passionately that we have to come together and offer Kent children an opportunity to get on the front foot for September”.
Stephen James adds: “Teachers and schools have done an amazing job during lockdown, often working extended hours through their holidays and the complete redesign of schools for social distancing has been nothing short of extraordinary. Teachers and school leaders need a break, which is why we’ve set up the Pop Up Summer Academy.”
Liz Carter, Executive Head at The Federation of St Martin & Seabrook CEP Schools in Kent, says: ”It is really beneficial for all children to continue their learning journey throughout the summer, particularly those children who have not attended school. As well as learning provided by schools, Invicta Pop Up Academy will provide some much-needed routine and consolidation of learning over the summer to get the children of Kent ready for September. I feel that any opportunities to keep learning alive and enable children to revise their previous learning is going to have huge benefits for their mental health as well as their academic progress come September”.
“It’s all hands to the pump”, says Invicta Academy’s safeguarding lead, Caroline Platt, “we have had so many offers of help from educators keen to give their time to help our local boys and girls get back up to speed before September.”