ONE of the largest schools in Bradford, which caters for primary and secondary students, is having to fill gaps in pupils’ phonics and maths knowledge thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bradford Girls’ Grammar School was visited by Ofsted on Tuesday, October 6.

The education watchdog is not conducting its usual visits, where schools would be graded.

Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) are instead finding out how schools have responded to the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 virus.

The report outlines how Bradford Girls Grammar has approached the various pressure points for educations settings along the pandemic timeline.

It also highlights the challenges that have arisen specifically at the school during these tumultuous times.

Bradford Girls’ Grammar opened for the new academic year on Monday, September 7 to primary phase pupils and Years 7, 11 and 13.

Students in Years 8 and 10 then returned the day after, with children in Reception attending half days for the first two weeks of term.

One of the key areas Ofsted are exploring on these new visits is how the pandemic, and forced time away from school, has impacted pupils’ learning and knowledge.

The report outlines that some new Year 1 pupils are missing phonics knowledge from the year before, while all primary-aged children at the school have gaps in their maths knowledge and skills.

It states: “You assessed Year 1 pupils’ starting points in early reading.

“You found gaps in some pupils’ phonics knowledge.

“These pupils are receiving extra phonics sessions now.

“You explained that teachers found gaps in primary pupils’ mathematical knowledge and skills.

“You explained that teachers will provide extra opportunities for pupils to explore shape, space and measure to address these.”

Pupils at the school are studying their usual subjects in the curriculum, including those learning remotely, but the content has been reordered by subject leaders to address gaps in knowledge.

This came about after teachers assessed students' learning in all areas, following the period when schools were only open to some pupils, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The report states: "Pupils have access to all learning resources when they are absent but able to work at home.

"You explained that you have adapted remote learning methods and resources for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities."

The report also reveals that, since reopening for the new academic year, class or year-group "bubbles" in Years 4, 8 and 9 have had to self-isolate at some point throughout the term.

The report adds: “Pupils’ attendance is below their typical attendance at this time of year."

The findings are based on discussions with the the school’s Principal, Clare Martin, the Senior Leadership team and the Senior Leader responsible for safeguarding.

HMIs Tim Scargill-Knight and Tracey Ralph did not visit lessons, check work, or speak to pupils as they normally would, because of the protective measures in place.

Bradford Girls' Grammar School was contacted for a comment, but did not respond.

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills is leading Ofsted's work into how England’s education system is managing the return to full education for pupils, following an extended break in formal schooling due to the pandemic.

HMI will visit around 1,200 schools across all Ofsted grades and of all types.