It is unusual for our ships to go empty but for much of the past 18 months you’d have found our secret passageways were shut and the most active inhabitants of our learning spaces were our goldfish.
Last autumn, like many other organisations, we made careful risk assessments and opened our doors, only to shut them again before Christmas.
It would be easy to remember 2020-21 as a lost year, but despite opening and shutting our physical doors we worked with over 250 Young Pirates online, on our Virtual Ship, to improve their literacy, confidence and perseverance. We took a programme that has relied on the stomp of the deck and the squeeze of the secret passageway and looked at how we could create the same adventure and enthusiasm online.
We have learned that something special happens aboard both our virtual and our physical ships. In our virtual rooms, you will find Young Pirates having enthusiastic conversations with their crewmates about a shared challenging text. In our physical rooms, you will find Young Pirates browsing the shelves with their crewmates and choosing the next stage of their learning journey. In both you will find reading, writing, laughter and games and significantly, as we review our impact data from last year, in both you will find Young Pirates that are making good progress.
As thoughtful pirates there is much to learn – what works best online? Who makes more progress in person? Our impact report will be released soon, and as part of that we are making exciting plans to deepen our impact and understanding of the different potential of both programmes. What is clear however, is that there is value in our physical and virtual ships and we are delighted to be launching our first official year as a three ship fleet: Hackney, Haringey and online.
Taking our impact seriously has always been crucial, and now more than ever. Last year was another academic year of disruption and lost learning for children in Hackney, Haringey and beyond. The evidence on learning loss is real, the EPI are reporting the losses in schools with higher rates of disadvantage are around 50% higher than schools with lower rates. The boroughs in which we work are directly affected by these issues and there is much work to be done to support our schools, families and Young Pirates in these challenging times.
So here we are again, at the begin of another year and ready to deliver to over 380 Young Pirates. Our screens and buildings are filling up with games, stories and interactions that will make a difference.
We couldn’t make this difference without our volunteers and supporters. Thank you!
If you or someone you know is a potentially cheerleader to a young person who needs a boost, please look at our volunteering offer. If you could support us with a monthly donation, you can set up a regular gift on our JustGiving page.