A ground-breaking new programme, spearheaded by South Gloucestershire Council to ensure that no child going back to school after lockdown is left behind, could be considered future best practice following a meeting with the Education Secretary this week.

The Recovery Curriculum, which has been embraced by more than 100 primary, secondary and special schools across South Gloucestershire, has been designed to support vulnerable children on their return to the classroom, limiting the impact of Covid-19 on their learning process. Drawing on input from experts in fields such as health, inclusion, community learning and early years, the model also incorporates the findings of international case studies where children have returned to school post-crisis, such as the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand back in 2011.

The potential for wider application of the initiative as prospective best practice for schools, academy trusts and local authorities was brought to the attention of Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson this week in a meeting organised by local MPs Luke Hall and Chris Skidmore, following a parliamentary question posed by the latter last week which peaked the minister’s interest.

During the virtual meeting, also attended by South Gloucestershire council leader Councillor Toby Savage and cabinet member for schools, skills and employment Councillor Erica Williams, the positive work that went into a stellar September return for South Gloucestershire school was discussed, with more than 90 per cent of pupils in attendance in the first week back – well above national averages.

Impressed by the programme, the Education Secretary requested to explore the framework in more depth and consider its wider applications.

Councillor Erica Williams said: “The Recovery Curriculum has been an important step towards helping our young people to continue to reach their potential with no child being left behind. Our number one priority as a Council is to improve school standards and we will continue to push for that, even in the face of the obstacle that is Covid-19.

“I am delighted that the project has earned such a positive reception and want to thank our schools, teachers and Council officers for their dedication to the plan. I am also truly grateful to both Luke and Chris for arranging the meeting and showcasing this fantastic initiative to Government.”

Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore said: “I am pleased to have met with the Secretary of State for Education following my question raising the Recovery Curriculum in the House of Commons earlier this month, and to have had the opportunity to once again personally raise the excellent work our Council is doing in supporting local schools and getting pupils back into the classroom.

“The Recovery Curriculum will be vital in helping to empower local children through education and supporting their learning during these unprecedented times.”

Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall said: “Getting our young people back into school in a safe, secure and supportive way is a massive task and I am glad South Gloucestershire Council has been able to have the foresight to address this problem head on. It was a pleasure to raise this with the Secretary of State and I hope this work can be of further benefit to children across a wider area.”