It may be smaller than the other schools in our Aldridge family, but Sudell Primary School, in Darwen, is a big part of the Aldridge community.

Darwen is in the top 10% of areas of greatest deprivation in the UK and, along with neighbouring Blackburn, has seen some of the highest Covid-19 infection rates in England. As a consequence, the disadvantaged children we support in Darwen have been disproportionately impacted by school closures and missed school days as a result of the pandemic. Many children here are playing catch-up with their peers due to the high level of children eligible for Free School Meals (54% at Sudell).

But, as well as catch-up support, we wanted to fund a day out for students, focused on outdoor activities, giving them a much-needed change of environment after so much time spent in lockdown – and, in many cases, self-isolation too – due to the pandemic. Outdoor adventure activities are one of our key programme areas to help young people gain confidence and develop important life skills.  

Visit to Kingswood Peak Venture

Aldridge Foundation provided funding for a visit for Y6 students to Kingswood outdoor activity centre in Sheffield. The day was dedicated to outdoor learning, teamwork, problem solving, improving communication skills and, importantly, fun.  

Our group enjoyed a full day of activity sessions, from aerial challenges and archery, to problem solving initiatives, which encourage bonding and working together as a team. Reports from the accompanying adults are of the children excelling themselves – overcoming fears, discovering skills and encouraging each other to do their best.

The children all agreed that it was a fantastic experience; the number of children who slept on the coach on the way home certainly proved what an action-packed day it had been. The staff and children at Sudell are incredibly grateful for the generous support of the Aldridge Foundation in helping to fund this day.  Without their support, the children at Sudell would not have been able to go on this brilliant trip.

Mrs Lewis, Principal, Sudell Primary School

Catch-up initiatives

The Catch-Up Programme

The Catch-Up Programme for pupils at Sudell Primary School, Darwen, was both an urgent Covid-19 recovery initiative and an opportunity for children from a deprived area to build a solid foundation for future academic progression and success.

With a generous grant from Harrow School’s Shaftesbury Enterprise, we were able to fund e  an experienced tutor to provide twice-weekly support for children with English and maths. We also funded specialist vocabulary development training for staff, and tutoring support materials for children. 

“The programme provided one-on-one tutoring and coaching to help children whose existing learning gaps have widened significantly due to disrupted learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme primarily focussed on core literacy and numeracy skills catch-up but also included a focus on coaching to help re-engage pupils’ concentration skills and confidence.  All children had an increase in their outcomes as a result of this tailored intervention.” Mrs Lewis, Principal, Sudell Primary School

Providing the necessary tools and support to help parents feel confident in supporting their children’s learning

We funded the appointment of a home school learning ambassador to provide specialist help to families and carers with their children’s home learning, and to support family outreach, building links with the hardest to reach families and families with children with learning difficulties. We supplied home learning support materials, laptops and internet access where needed, as well as help in using them.   Local internet provider, 6G, generously helped to provide free connection and internet services to the families most in need.

As a result, engagement with home learning improved and Sudell was able to deliver a high-quality home learning programme, which helped prevent the further widening of the gap in learning, particularly amongst our most disadvantaged pupils.

Developing an increased love of reading

We linked Sudell with Bookmark, a charity dedicated to supporting children with reading.

Bookmark swiftly adapted their usual face to face model to deliver safe literacy support on line during the pandemic. Bookmark and their partners, including Literacy Capital, also kindly donated ancillary equipment and three laptops, and provided training for one of the school’s teaching assistant to ensure the programme ran smoothly.

“The children really have enjoyed the sessions, enthusiasm for reading has skyrocketed leading to increased reading ages and increased phonics screening scores.  Bookmark did a wonderful job with the reading project. The work with the children made a huge difference to the children’s confidence in their reading and in contributing to their all-round reading progress.” Mrs Lewis, Principal, Sudell Primary School