Research School Network: Supporting children to make up for missed classroom teaching – part 2 Exploring possible programmes or practices

Supporting children to make up for missed classroom teaching – part 2

Exploring possible programmes or practices

This blog is the second of two parts examining the return to school after partial closure. It suggests that we should look to the Explore’ section of the Implementation Guidance Report to steer our thinking. Firstly, in the identification of a tight area for improvement using a robust diagnostic process. And secondly, by exploring possible programmes or practices to address this issue(s). To read part one click here.

Part 2- Exploring solutions:

As children get settled back into school, many of our thoughts will be on how we can support our pupils who have missed out on months of classroom teaching as a result of partial school closures. In this second blog, we will look at how once we feel we have fully explored the issue we can start to explore the solutions available to us and to consider what to do both now and in the long term.

The tiered approach provides us with a template to do this:

Three tiers

In October, 2019 the EEF first published The EEF Guide to Pupil Premium and suggested that schools should consider a tiered approach to Pupil Premium spending to help schools balance approaches to improving teaching, targeted academic support and wider strategies. This has been developed further in The EEF Guide to Supporting School Planning: A Tiered Approach to 2021. In the foreword to this guide, Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive of the EEF, says that we know from the best available evidence that the most powerful tool we have to combat educational inequality is to support great teaching in every classroom’.

The graphic used to show the tiered approach gives an indication of how much time and effort we should put into each section. Consequently, it is teaching that should be given substantially more consideration. Although we may wish to consider interventions and wider strategies to support children, this should not detract from the main focus of delivering great teaching in every classroom.

Once we have used diagnostic assessment to accurately work out what learning has been understood and retained and what has not, we then need to reflect on and consider our curriculum, as we move forward to think about supporting each year group.


To start with, it might be useful to think about sequencing and which subsequent topics build upon the work that children have been undertaking remotely. As we come to teach these topics in the future we will need to be mindful that children are more likely to have gaps in their knowledge and understanding.

The seven step model from the EEF Metacognition and Self-regulated learning guidance report offers a useful framework for this either within a lesson or across a series of lessons:


This scaffolding framework refers to the need to activate prior knowledge, where we can ensure that we check that children do have a thorough understanding of the topics that the current lesson is building upon. It is so important that we address any gaps before moving on, as there is no point moving on and building upon foundations if they are not solid. This will have a positive effect for our disadvantaged pupils who often lack this background knowledge. If we do find – perhaps through questioning – that some children are missing key prior knowledge then we need to stop and address this.

Children may also need to be retaught explicitly how to start a task and what to do when they get stuck as some are likely to have forgotten these routines, or pre-existing scaffolds that were commonly used before learning went increasingly online.

The final step, where all children engage in structured reflection, will support children to reflect on their learning and consider how to do tasks more effectively in the future.

At each stage, the teacher should gradually remove the support (the scaffold) as the pupil becomes able to complete the task independently. This explicit handover of responsibility is shown by the shading of the boxes at the different stages in the model (on the left hand side), as the red shading represents the student and the pink section represents the teacher.

Targeted academic support

It may be that we decide some children would benefit from targeted academic support. We should ensure that our decisions about which pupils would benefit from this additional support (and what areas this should focus on) is guided by assessment.

Prof Becky Francis writes here that the EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit shows the positive impact that tutoring can have as a catch-up strategy. However, as the Sutton Trust and others have documented, access to tutoring has previously widened rather than narrowed the gap. Therefore, we need to ensure that we are providing high-quality tuition to our students who need it most.

The National Tutoring Programme is one option available to schools.

However, for schools who decide to offer tuition themselves, the following key messages from the evidence on small-group and one-to-one tutoring are worth consideration:

National Tutoring Programme

This compliments the messages in the Making best use of Teaching Assistants and Special educational needs in mainstream schools guidance reports which emphasise the need for the learning in extra interventions to be consistent with work inside the classroom, and also state that the main focus should be on high quality teaching.

Wider strategies

Supporting social and emotional wellbeing is an important feature to consider in the response to partial school closures. The Improving Social and Emotional Learning in Primary Schools Guidance Report offers six recommendations from the best available evidence for schools to critically review how they support children’s social and emotional development. Additionally, many schools over the last year have been reminded about the importance of working with parents and carers. The Working with Parents to Support Children’s Learning Guidance Report provides four recommendations that aim to help schools to consider how to maximise parental engagement to improve learning. The EEF has also produced a range of supporting resources for home learning in response to the pandemic, which can be found here; these support a range of aspects including establishing routines, self-regulation, supporting reading and supporting mathematics.

Final thought

Whatever you choose to pursue as a school, we would recommend that you follow the Implementation Guidance Report process and its related recommendations to give your programmes the best chance of success for your pupils.

Julie Kettlewell and Jane Elsworth, Huntington Research School

If you are interested in metacognition and self-regulated learning, find information about our upcoming training programme here

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