Ealing Free Summer School - Half Way Mark
Updated: Aug 18
Just over 5 weeks ago, our team at the Znaniye Foundation office had the idea to launch an entirely free Online Summer School, for our local borough of Ealing.
When Covid-19 hit the UK, and in turn schools and educational establishments were closed - the effects on Children were noticed immediately across the country. Data was published by early June which revealed that around 2.3 Million Children in the UK had already done almost no school work since Lockdown and 1 in 5 children had done an hour or less a day.
Having worked closely with our local community for over 17 years providing supplementary education and support to youth and families, we were immediately noticing the direct effects of school closures close to home. In particular the disproportionate effects of closures that were being felt by and inflicted upon low-income families, as well as those from BAME communities - who in the UK traditionally have less opportunities for educational services and out of school help.
Therefore, we quickly put together a plan to create an opportunity for students aged 3-18 to access readily available interactive, stimulating and educational lessons throughout a 6 week time frame. Our goal was to play a part in ensuring any and all students had the opportunity to continue their education, and catch up on learning lost prior to returning to school in the new academic year, but also to offer fun, interactive and life-based courses, such as wellbeing sessions alongside the core subjects. These sessions aim to support young people’s happiness and mental wellbeing at this unprecedented time, and we are incredibly proud to have had a mental health support worker come on board who has helped the charity establish partnerships and support from with the following organisations: The Centre for ADHD & Autism, Mind in Harrow and their HeadsUp Project, WISH centre, and the Young Harrow Foundation.
We knew that with governmental and school catch-up schemes yet to be announced and implemented, community led initiatives would have to play a large role in limiting the effects on children. Within days we had a team of volunteers, and a large pool of teachers, tutors and professionals on board to lend a hand in their fields of expertise.
The driving force behind this project has always been the love and respect that we have for our community. All volunteers on board are from the local area, and passionate about giving back as best they can. With this common goal driving us all - we couldn't wait to get started.
We are incredibly grateful to have had the full support from the Ealing Grid for Learning at Ealing Council, who worked to spread the word to all schools in the borough - ensuring that we could notify as many families as possible of what would be available to them. Additionally, our volunteers travelled around the borough to put up and hand out posters and leaflets, including local small businesses proudly sharing the information in their establishments.
Within 48 hours of opening registration we had over 300 children registered, and by the time we launched - over 650, and this number is increasing daily. Whilst this exceeded our expectations, it also re-confirmed to us how much an adaptive, creative and purposeful project like ours is needed; to reduce inequality and grow stronger, more resilient and thriving communities.
The 27th of July 2020 bought our first day - and since then in our first 3 weeks we have held over 100 individual lessons, and had over 1650 individual session sign ups (with one English session reaching over 91 students!) Our lessons have ranged from Maths, English, All Sciences, Geography, History, Politics, Music, Art, Poetry, Singing and Storytime, Finance Management, Tips for Assertiveness and Life Skills, Understanding LGBTQ and Understanding Mental Health, along with many others. All taught by high level teachers, tutors, and industry professionals. Each lesson has been vibrant and informative, and the parent and guardian feedback thus far has only reiterated this!
To further support the students coming online, we created care packages with donations from members of the community including textbooks, stationary and workbooks that were available for students on Free School Meals. Working with the parents and local schools directly, our team then personally hand delivered these packages to the children.
Whilst we are a very small team, we are having a large positive impact on young people in Ealing and West London. The effort that each student has put into every lesson and the familiar faces joining day after day only pushes us to offer more topics.
And so, we are delighted that we will soon be adding brand new topics and more creative lessons to the weekly schedule for the next half of the project. Giving students an opportunity to not only practice and catch up on topics, but a chance to learn new passions and explore new avenues.
The students' enthusiasm within each lesson has shown us more than ever just how much our future generations deserve all the support that we can offer at this uncertain time, and so we have been working tirelessly to try to secure funding to allow us to expand and continue. We are immensely proud to announce that we have now secured funding to extend the scheme till 2021.
We would like to thank you all for the support you have given us. We are thrilled to be making a positive impact on the education and wellbeing of young people in West London!