The Hastings Opportunity area has been working closely with schools in the town to support their work responding to pupil and family needs during the COVID-19 period of school closures, and the subsequent transition upon re-opening. We engaged in dialogues with schools and three of the key priority areas identified were food vouchers, emotional and wellbeing support for families and support during the transitional phased return.
Following work with our board and the Department for Education we are able to offer the following initial support:
Schools identified food as an urgent priority for many families. We worked with the the Board and the Department for Education to provide food vouchers for vulnerable pupils who are in food need, but who are not currently eligible for Free school meals. Our aim, in providing these vouchers, is to supplement the work that we are aware many schools and community organisations are already engaged in to support vulnerable children, and to make this as accessible as possible for schools to deliver. The majority of Hastings schools have signed up to the scheme, with over 450 families being provided with weekly food vouchers, to date.
Additional Key Workers
A number of schools, through the Attendance Fund, had access to key workers to provide additional focused support for those families experiencing or at risk of attendance issues. As a result of Covid-19 the focus of these key workers has changed, with workers now delivering emotional and practical support to a wider group of families alongside continuing to offer support to those families they were working with previously.
The HOA has made funding available for Education Future’s Trust to provide three additional short term key workers to work with Hastings schools who do not currently have access to key work support.
The key workers will focus on vulnerable children and families by providing emotional wellbeing support to children and their parents/carers, practical advice and other practical support such as help with benefits, housing and accessing food parcel deliveries.
Hastings Maths Challenges
We have worked with our partners ‘Times Tables Rockstars’ and ‘Sumdog’ to offer free online Maths competitions to all schools over the coming months. Schools that would like more information or to sign up can email Laura.Starkin@eastsussex.gov.uk
Our broadening horizons team are currently working hard to further develop ‘Badge Bonanza’, with additions to the existing online portal that offer signposting to quality web-based resources and competitions for children and young people to engage in enrichment activities within their homes. The online portal, aimed at primary pupils, launched in 2019 offers children in Hastings the opportunity to win digital badges for completing tasks. You can find our update from the Broadening Horizons Team here.
We will continue to work with all schools, the college, early years settings, service providers and our wider community partners to support however we are able during and after COVID-19.