School children in Barrow are receiving support in a bid to prevent the pandemic affecting their life chances.
Eleven-year-olds at Walney Secondary School have been getting special assemblies and well-being sessions designed to ease fears over the sudden move from primary into secondary school after months out of formal education.
“The aim is to make sure they feel safe and supported, and that they have a love of learning,” says Sarah Cubiss, delivery manager for The Brathay Trust, the charity running the scheme.
“If they become disaffected with school in these early weeks the knock-on effects for their whole secondary education are potentially huge.”
The Cumberland building society has granted the Trust £10,000 to run the project, which is called Strong Foundations, Successful Futures.
Initially there will be support and homework sessions for the pupils in school. The project will then expand into the community with games, craft sessions and sports activities for young people and their families.
Sarah, a former primary school teacher in Barrow for more than 20 years, says: “These Year Seven students didn’t get any of the usual transition support such as visits to secondary school during the summer term.
“They haven’t had education for six months apart from some online learning which is not the same.
“Now they’ve had to go straight into school. They are a unique year group, no one has ever moved school under these circumstances.”
She says the pandemic and lockdown has caused stress for many children.
“We have seen increased anxiety,” she says. “Young people already experience worries when moving school – it’s all new, will they make friends, will the work be too hard? These have been amplified by Covid.
“This project is all about helping them establish new friendships and make connections and relationships in a Covid-secure way.”
Sarah says the grant from The Cumberland has been crucial in allowing the project to go head. “It just makes the whole thing possible,” she said.
The team consists of Sarah plus Alison King from The Brathay Trust and Alysha Moore from Walney Community Trust which is partnering on the project.
Becky Towns, communications executive with The Cumberland said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to support this project with a grant of £10,000 from our Community Fund.
“The effects of the pandemic and disruption to education threaten to disadvantage some young people. This project will help them through this difficult time and hopefully set them on track to make the most of their potential.”
The Brathay Trust aims to improve life chances for children and young people. It is based near Ambleside and has a centre in Barrow at The Hub on Cavendish Street.