A VIRTUAL summer academy providing free lessons for pupils is set to launch next week.

Lessons through the Invicta Summer Academy will be taught via Zoom for children across Oxfordshire in an attempt to plug the gap in educational attainment.

Qualified teachers will give out English and Maths lessons for students in Key Stages 1 to 4.

The initiative was launched in Kent at the end of last month, with lessons in Oxfordshire set to start on Monday, running through until Friday, August 28.

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Parents are able to choose as many or few tutorials as they like, with no ongoing obligation.

Juliette Ash, director of Invicta Summer Academy Oxfordshire, is a friend of Anna Firth, a district councillor in Kent, who is behind the whole project.

She said: “As a school governor, I have seen the attainment gap created by many schools being able to continue with high quality provision via online lessons where others have had to rely on hard-working parents to cater for their children’s education with limited support.

“It is this attainment gap we are hoping to close by providing free online lessons in core subjects ahead of the September start. The initiative also provides additional welcome employment to the area.”

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Alice Bridgwater, coordinator of the project, added: “400 kids have signed up so far but that figure will go up as we get the message out there.

“With Kent having the template there already it’s then almost been copied across here.

“However, we’re really trying to reach the deprived children in Oxfordshire and our project is looking to get to those children in deprived wards.

“We’ve used contacts to get to children who have struggled with education and Facebook groups have also been key.

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“A lot of Oxfordshire councillors have been supporting the project, giving money from their wards and John Howell has been very supportive too.

“Hopefully this is something that will carry on as it’s something that will benefit a lot of children.”

In total, 10 teachers will run the lessons with six facilitators on board to assist.

Lessons are uploaded to Zoom prior to the tutorial, with students sent a link to the lesson they’ve signed up for.

The only people pupils will be able to see are the teacher and facilitator, with a chat for the pupils to engage in.

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Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has backed the project.

He said: “Activities which support the education and wellbeing of children will no doubt be beneficial ahead of their return to school in September.

“The pop-up online school, Invicta Summer Academy is a great example of the community coming together to provide support for local children.”

Henley MP Mr Howell added: “We are all concerned about the effect of the necessary school closures on the education of our children and are offering support and finance to give Oxfordshire children the opportunity to get on the front foot for September.”

Academies are also being run in Lancashire, London and Surrey, all set to launch on Monday.