EEF in the News: “The fund has been a lifeline and still is to this day”  - Sunday Times reports back on our £1.3 million Christmas appeal

This week's  Sunday Times highlights the positive impact made by our Christmas charity appeal last year to support schools serving disadvantaged communities...

Sarah Smith, a head teacher, can still recall the excitement and disbelief as she watched last year’s Christmas appeal donations rocket.

That appeal had a simple message: help Britain’s poorest children. It triggered a £1,322,017.31 response.

The aim was to keep schools open during the holidays to provide hot meals and some support for vulnerable families. It also pledged to offer Christmas presents and trips to the countryside or beach for children in the poorest parts of the UK with the worst educational outcomes. ...

In the short term, the fund helped Smith and other head teachers deal with food poverty over Christmas. “We distributed hampers, fuel vouchers and presents while keeping the school open for five days of activities. It was an exceptional time and families are still talking about it now,” Smith said.

When Covid-19 made it impractical to keep the doors open over the Easter and summer breaks, she used the fund to distribute “nature boxes”, “science boxes” and “craft boxes” to families. “The fund has been a lifeline and still is to this day,” said Smith. “We’re going to try to make sure every child gets a present again this Christmas and we’re repeating the food parcel deliveries.” ...

In Stoke-on-Trent, Glebe Primary Academy has organised a range of holiday activities, including family first aid, cooking and computer skills.

Suzanne Oakes-Smith, the principal, said: “We have been able to stay open to our most vulnerable pupils through all holiday periods, including summer, in a safe way.

“Feedback from families highlights the different ways pupils benefit from attending holiday activities and clubs, such as developing new skills; trying new activities; playing in a safe environment, having a nutritious meal and, most importantly, making memories.”

The EEF's chief executive, Prof. Becky Francis, comments:

“The response of Sunday Times readers to our appeal was wonderfully generous. It’s been so heartening to hear how the money raised has helped schools to offer children and their families practical support, as well as some fun and learning – especially in this challenging and disrupted year. 

“Christmas hampers and emergency fuel vouchers, family ‘cook and eat’ sessions, dance and dramas, painting kits and gardening projects, day trips to Sea Life… The list is testament to the commitment of schools in some of our most disadvantaged communities to go the extra mile for their pupils. 

“Thank you to all those who made it possible.”