Covid Response: Education

Supporting young people to thrive

When schools, colleges and after school projects closed due to coronavirus, hundreds of thousands of children risked falling behind with school work and becoming isolated. Some schools could offer full days of online classes and extra tuition to pupils with all the necessary equipment at home, while other schools faced the challenge of reaching pupils who didn’t have access to computers or the internet.

The education gap threatened to widen fast. Without the safety and security of school, young people’s mental health had been suffering too.

Charities had to think fast, with some working round the clock to adapt their services. We gave grants to a range of organisations and our funding will make a difference to more than 700,000 children, young people and their families.

Closing the gap

Team Up works to reduce the widening education attainment gap by providing Maths and English tuition for disadvantaged pupils. When schools closed due to COVID-19, we gave a grant to help launch Team Up’s online tutoring programme so they could continue to work with pupils who relied on them. We also contributed to the cost of a five-week summer tutoring programme for 22 students from Kensington and Chelsea who needed extra academic support.

Another organisation needing support to move online was the Museum of Brands in west London. The Museum presents exhibitions, talks and workshops to examine the role of brands in history and the modern world. Our grant funded a new part-time learning officer to adapt and equip the Museum’s educational programmes, so they could offer safe in-person learning as well as online sessions.

As schools remained closed, children in challenging home situations struggled to keep learning. Many were trying to share devices with siblings and parents, or use small smartphone screens to access their lessons. In January 2021, we contributed £2,500 to the Harrow Club W10’s appeal for laptops for children in Kensington and Chelsea. Our grant paid for 10 laptops and software to be used for schoolwork. Some were lent to families to use at home, others were kept in open access hubs that young people could come to when they needed a quiet place to study.

Encouraging the love of reading

The Give a Book charity aims to spread the pleasure of reading in the most difficult places – mainly in prisons and with disadvantaged children and young people throughout the UK. Their usual projects, such as school breakfast book clubs and prison family reading initiatives were put on hold due to coronavirus restrictions. During the lockdown, the charity worked with 10 schools, providing books to go into community boxes with food and other essentials. Our grant has helped them reach more than 1,000 vulnerable children, improving their wellbeing as well as their learning.

Every year the Reading Agency organises a Summer Reading Challenge, a ‘reading for pleasure’ programme for children aged 4 to 11. Usually run through public libraries, the pandemic threatened to ruin the event. The charity needed a digital solution. We provided a grant so they could create an online platform full of activities and quizzes that inspired and encouraged children to read.

  • We gave a total of more than £85,600 to organisations in the education sector during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Our funding will make a difference to more than 700,000 children, young people and their families.
  • During one week in October 2020, more than 400,000 students in UK were out of school due to COVID related reasons.

Emotional support for children and young people

 Our grant to Play for Progress meant unaccompanied child refugees living in London could receive one-to-one therapy. This emotional support is so important for children who were already coping with mental health issues due to the experiences they’ve had, and were even more isolated and anxious following the lockdown. Play for Progress has moved much of their work with young refugees online, offering music classes and educational tutoring via video conference.

The intense uncertainty and ongoing changes brought about by the pandemic has been particularly tough for the young people with autism and their families. Many, already deeply affected by isolation, anxiety and financial hardship, were struggling to cope. As schools closed, we increased our existing support to the charity Ambitious About Autism so they could move their highly specialised support services online, providing as much continuity as possible for young people with autism and their families. This includes one-to-one support from family support workers for parents and carers.

Looking to the future

Making decisions about the future is daunting at the best of times. The current crisis makes it even harder. That’s where Founders4Schools can help. The educational-tech charity connects children and young people to inspirational role models to raise their aspirations and help them to fulfil their potential. Our grant meant they could move their services online. Interactive webinars with business leaders are inspiring young people, educating them about future careers and the related skills they need to succeed.

In2Science also needed to replace their face-to-face programmes with online support, training and new materials. The charity gives young people from low income backgrounds the opportunity to achieve their potential and gain key skills and confidence to progress to careers in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector. Our grant for this project meant 700 young people could receive workbooks, resources, mentoring from a wide range of professionals, and the chance to join motivational workshops.

Our grant to Yes Futures meant the charity could develop and pilot a ‘Strengths Toolbox’ to help vulnerable young people work on their self-esteem, wellbeing and positive mental health during this challenging time. The funding covered the printing and posting of 4,375 copies of the Toolbox, and an evaluation of the project so the charity could develop it further.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of our trusted delivery partners the libraries, the 2020 Summer Reading Challenge had to move at pace to a digital model. The generous donation from the Kusuma Trust enabled us to develop an innovative and inspiring online platform, helping to keep children reading over the summer, support parents and carers in lockdown, and ensure libraries could continue to support with their own digital offerings.”
Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency

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