Catch-up class to breakfast club: How schools are helping pupils post-Covid

Will Mackintosh, principal at the Forest Academy

Will Mackintosh, principal at the Forest Academy - Credit: The Forest Academy

As east London struggles through the post-pandemic economic recovery, the area’s schools have become essential in supporting the most vulnerable families.

To recognise this, and as part of our There With You This Winter campaign, this newspaper has spoken to schools in east London about the initiatives they set up to help during the crisis.

According to Yvonne Andress, co-head at Beacon Academy Trust's Beal High School, the economic impact of the pandemic could be seen “across all three schools in the trust”. 

She said it offered one-to-one or small group tuition to help disadvantaged year 12 and 13s who “aren’t quite making progress in all their subjects”. 

It has also worked on providing material support such as a free breakfast club – which is available to all pupils. 

Beal High School

Beal High School - Credit: Beal Multi-Academy Trust

“That part was really important to us,” said Will Mackintosh, principal at the Forest Academy which is also part of the trust. 

“There's no stigma attached to it,” he said. 

Yvonne added: “There’s students and families that have struggled that might not actually be on any free school meals list yet, that takes a while to go through, but we will provide them with things like food vouchers and support.” 

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Similarly, Woodbridge High School in Woodford Green runs Croissant Club, a breakfast club for vulnerable students in the inclusion department.

These students are raising money for Crisis to help those in need this winter.  

The school also runs a study club, providing a warm and safe space for students to complete homework after class. 

As well as supporting their own pupils, many east London schools are working to help those struggling in their local communities. 

Bancroft’s School in Woodford Green is working with Canning Town charity Ambition Aspire Achieve (AAA) on the Kevin Jenkins Christmas Toy Appeal.

This 2021 appeal - now in its 44th year - is being run by AAA in partnership with the Newham Recorder and Community Links

The school has asked every pupil to buy a new toy for another child, with the aim of filling 300 Christmas stockings for children who wouldn’t normally get any presents at Christmas.  

“We are very fortunate here at Bancroft’s,” said Sarah Strong, head of charities and community links at the school.  

“With the resources we have, with the facilities we have, with the staff that tend to be here long-term.   

“They don’t want to take that ever for granted and we are in the fortunate position to give back to our local community, whether that is on our doorstep or further afield."

The There With You This Winter campaign is raising awareness of support available to help people get through the cold winter months.