Basildon Lower Academy

Closing pandemic learning gaps for disadvantaged KS3 pupils
Time to read
3 mins

MyTutor worked with Basildon Lower Academy in Essex to support around 600 disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils across Years 7-9. 

The programme was set to help close the learning gaps that KS3 pupils had developed in their reading and numeracy during the pandemic.


The challenge

One of the biggest challenges of the schools is supporting its large number of vulnerable children. The school is unique as it serves KS3 specifically, while the Upper Academy serves Year 10 through to Sixth Form.

“With approximately 40-50% Pupil Premium students per year group, our inclusive pathways are really important to us,” says April Gurney, Director of Education for the Basildon Academies Trust.

The main challenge was to boost pupils’ confidence in reading and numeracy, to offset the disruption of the pandemic.


The programme

The Lower Academy ran two programmes with MyTutor – the 1:1 programme focused on around 300 pupils in Years 8 and 9, while the 3:1 programme supported 327 pupils in Year 7. “We had a small group of pupils who engaged in tutoring from home, but we ran the majority of the programme in school,” says April.

When selecting students for the programmes, the school started with their most vulnerable, disadvantaged students – Pupil Premium students, children with special educational needs or disabilities, looked-after children, or those under social care. Within that group, they looked at those with the biggest learning gaps and identified 3:1 groups based on common gaps in knowledge.

Lastly, they focused on non-disadvantaged students whose learning had been most negatively impacted by the pandemic. This included those who had English as an additional language and high-attaining children who didn’t have access to the resources they needed during the lockdowns.

“The focus of the programme was on reading and numeracy, and we wanted the tutoring to address learning gaps in particular strands like fractions and comprehension,” says April.


The impact

Both programmes have had tangible effects on the pupils at the Lower Academy:


  • Improved marks

Over half of the children engaged in tutoring are set to increase their marks, particularly in numeracy. “In a previous programme of high-attaining Year 11 Pupil Premium boys, we saw a 16-mark increase in Maths – despite the disruption of the first lockdown,” says April.


  • Keeping learning on track

“We continued using MyTutor during the first national school closures to keep those students on track and moving into their A-Levels. As a result, we managed to retain them all into our Sixth Form.”


The experience

Despite using different tutoring providers from the National Tutoring Programme suite in 2021, Basildon Lower Academy found that MyTutor came out on top. “The programme was flexible and enabled us to be very specific in terms of what we wanted the children to do,” says April.

“It was very easy to work with our dedicated Relationship Manager. Whenever we’ve had questions, they’ve always been answered promptly, and there’s always somebody from the MyTutor team at the end of an email.”


  • Next steps

Tutoring will now become an integral part of the school’s out-of-hours learning and in-school intervention programme – “And I would definitely recommend MyTutor to other schools,” says April.


A top tip or word of advice from the school 

“Setting up our programme was a big undertaking. But, once we understood the different funding pathways offered by the government, we set up our 'tutoring lab' computer room, and appointed a middle leader member of staff to act as tutoring coordinator, and everything ran smoothly."

Have you downloaded our latest Impact Report? Find out how more schools, just like Basildon Lower Academy, are making an impact through online tutoring this year- as well as exclusive insights from our latest teacher and pupil survey, up-to-date funding and programme information. 

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