Criticism after county council selects Rugby's Lawrence Sheriff for project aimed at disadvantaged kids

Officers tasked with launching a county-wide project to help vulnerable pupils affected by the coronavirus lockdown have been criticised for their choice of pilot schools

Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 5:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 5:33 pm
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Rugby’s Lawrence Sheriff School, North Leamington School and Woodlands Special School in Coleshill have been confirmed as taking part in the fledgling Warwickshire Challenge pilot involving children from Year 7.

The Warwickshire County Council scheme aims to promote opportunities for youngsters which will help develop confidence and self-belief.

In a report on the project, councillors at this week’s (November 17) children and young people overview and scrutiny committee were told that the council was committed to supporting young people as they overcame the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

It explained: “Many disadvantaged children and young people will have suffered with poor mental health or will not have been able to participate in remote learning due to not having access to technology.

“The idea of the Warwickshire Challenge emerged in response to a key question – what can Warwickshire County Council offer vulnerable pupils, over and above what schools provide, that might help to bridge the gap for those pupils who may have been disadvantaged by lack of access to remote learning as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown?”

The challenge will consist of nearly 70 suggested activities for Key Stage 3 pupils with children working towards a bronze, silver or gold award.

While committee members welcomed the project - with tasks including baking a sponge and learning new languages - there were questions around the choice of pilot schools.

Cllr Corinne Davies (Lab, Camp Hill) said: “It is aimed at disadvantaged kids which is brilliant but then you are going to pilot it at the Lawrence Sheriff School which is one of the most successful schools in the county.

“Yes you will get loads of kids from that school who will join and do really well at it but let’s look at Hartshill because I think it would be very different. I think they are going to need a lot of support and quite a lot of cajoling to get involved in this. Some of them are struggling with English let alone a second language.

“All these things - performing in front of an audience, repairing a bike they don’t have, visiting an art gallery they’ve never been to. These are all lovely and great things to do but I don’t think it is necessarily applicable to the kids who really need it.”

Sophie Thompson, one of the officers involved in the project, said: “Lawrence Sheriff approached us and they will help us iron out some of the challenges. It is all work in progress and I take on board what’s been said.”

Councillors endorsed the idea but asked officers to make a more proactive effort to engage with schools in areas of deprivation with a high proportion of disadvantaged children.