National award for project to prevent summer learning loss

Rob Comber was the winner of the 10th annual Local Government Association Challenge.

He impressed judges with his Summer Slide project looking at ‘summer learning loss’, and was awarded a £10,000 scholarship to launch it.

According to this concept, schoolchildren – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – lose some of the knowledge and skills they have acquired during term time over the long holidays.

The 35 year old is a Service Development Manager for Kent County Council’s Children, Young People and Education directorate.

The first phase of Rob’s project involves working with four primary and four secondary schools to discover the extent summer learning loss.

Then a summer school will be designed by high-achieving students over the age of 16.

They would be under the supervision of newly qualified and trainee teachers, who will themselves be coached by more experienced teachers.

The summer school will initially cater for around 90 pupils aged nine to 13.

Rob, a father of two, said: “The summer education enrichment programme is for those children and families who feel the pain of poverty on a daily basis. It will focus on education but will be delivered in a creative way.

“Young people will be able to work on passion projects, doing something they are passionate about that will make a difference to their community, such as establishing a community shop or hosting a football tournament.”

The summer schools will include music, art, sport, outdoor learning and STEM subjects.

Rob added: “As the courses will be designed by young people it should feel like something other young people want to do.

“We will work with schools to look at how to ensure young people see the summer school as a reward rather than a criticism of them.”

Rob also plans to provide food for children who would receive free school meals in term time.

Kent County Council’s Leader, Paul Carter, was on the judging panel and said: “Rob’s presentation, stand and project were outstanding and he was a much-deserved winner.

“We look forward to seeing his project come to life and the outcomes it brings for disadvantaged children.”

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