AFTER months of hard work, a summer school for children who have been missing out on education opened yesterday.

The Barton Community Association (BCA) celebrated the opening of the Sunny Smiles Summer School, which will benefit about 50 children in Oxford.

Pupils in Years 4 to 6 will be attending the school after almost £4,000 was raised via GoFundMe.

The driving force behind the project has been Sue Holden, BCA secretary, who aside from visiting family, has been self-isolating since the lockdown was first implemented.

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However, Ms Holden made a special exception to visit the summer school for its opening.

She said: “It was quite emotional really, what started off as a pie in the sky idea in May has now come to fruition.

“Having been indoors and only visited my family bubble, it was absolutely great to go down and pop my head in.

“The kids had their heads down and looked to be really focusing and enjoying it.

“We’re hoping the children accessing this will now be a lot more confident when they return to their schools in September.

Oxford Mail:

“Although the learning is very important, it’s about the discipline, structure and focus - and making children ‘school ready’.

“There’s the social interaction that’s been missing for so long that I think is most important. Friendships are being rekindled as friends may not have seen each other for six months.

“I feel really proud, it’s not usually the area we’d cover but when you’ve got the passion in your belly to help this community, you’ve got to go through with it.”

Not content with standing still, Ms Holden now has her eyes firmly set on carrying on with the initiative.

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“There’s nothing stopping us doing a repeat performance and doing this again, it’s just a matter of funding,” she said.

“The February half term would be really good but as ever it depends on what the latest rules are.”

Pippa Gwilliam, a trustee at BCA, has also been instrumental in making the school a reality.

She said: “It’s all about giving a chance to the children who might not have been able to get any learning during the lockdown period.

“The school will give the children a whole month of good, solid education and the social side is so important as they’ve not been able to have normal lives.

Oxford Mail:

“There’s all sorts of activities in place to go alongside the core learning.

“They’ll also get their breakfast and lunch at their desks and in their bubbles.

“All the pupils are in bubbles and there’s an emphasis on cleaning so everything is as sterile as possible.

“Sue has pulled all this together from her house and it really is an extraordinary achievement.”

Jennie Howard, the project manager, said it’s possible the initiative could spread across the country.

“These policies and protocols can be copied over, there’s no reason why children should miss out on any more of their education.”