Thomas’s Battersea is one of the schools taking part in School Unlocked, a project seeking to narrow the educational gap between rich and poor children which experts say has widened during the pandemic.
State school children who qualify for free school meals or pupil premium funding are being given three weeks of extra schooling during the summer to help them catch up, as well as free breakfast and lunch.
The project was set up by Joanna Ebner, head of Thomas’s Kensington. It is funded by Thomas’s Foundation, the charitable arm of the Thomas’s group of schools.
Ms Ebner said she had a “moral duty” to help. She has recruited an army of young graduates to teach 200 children from six London state primary schools over the summer.
They will cover maths, English, science, drama and PE. Most will be taught in their own schools, but one group will have lessons at Thomas’s Battersea, where the prince and princess attend.
The project came about after Ms Ebner spoke to Jagdeep Birdi, headteacher of Colville School and Marlborough Primary School, state primary schools near Thomas’s Kensington.
It became apparent that the six-week holiday was not a source of happiness for most of his families. Instead it was a potential tipping point into despair.
Ms Ebner said: “Helping under-privileged children in an education emergency was very good motivation and I felt a moral obligation to try to make a difference.
“I also felt I had a real responsibility to ensure there wasn’t a huge chasm. There are children who have hugely missed out.”
The School Unlocked classes will run until the middle of this month. Ms Ebner said: “It is going really well. They are really excited to come back to school for the education and also because they get to socialise and see their friends.”