Summer Camp Cheers!

THE DIRECTOR of a Bradford learning centre which provides tuition in the core subjects has welcomed the news that out-of-school settings can now fully re-open, but believes that a world of restrictions and social distancing could last for another “two to three years”.

Mahesh Patel, Director of First Class Learning Bradford, says he is excited that his centre can now re-open to a wider range of children, but wants to make sure that their returns are made as safe as possible.

The centre has been open for over a month, but only to young people from ‘priority groups’, which include children who are deemed as vulnerable, children of key workers and select year groups.

Mr Patel says that First Class Learning Bradford, which is based on Bolton Lane, has carried out a full risk assessment ahead of its larger re-opening, and staff and children at the centre will follow all Government guidelines.

“So many children have missed out and haven’t been at school for months, due to this pandemic, so our re-opening is a great opportunity to get back and catch up on lost learning”, said Mr Patel.

“We as a business have also suffered during this lockdown, so it’s a good thing that we can now re-open to a wider range of children, as well as remaining open to those children from the priority groups.

“We must, however, make sure that our centre is a safe environment – social distancing rules will apply, children will have their temperatures checked when they come in and they will have to sanitise their hands, too, while the same rules also apply to all of our staff.

“We’ll also be providing PPE, including masks and gloves, for everyone at the centre.

“If parents or children still have doubts about coming in, that’s understandable. Bradford could be on the verge of going into a local lockdown so you can understand the concern, with rates of transmission so high.

“If they still feel it is unsafe to come in, they can take part in our home study programme, which will be done over Zoom.”

Mr Patel says that, although we are now beginning to return to some degree of ‘normality’, the measures currently in place – such as social distancing, for example – could continue for some time.

“I think that we could be operating like this for another two to three years. Scientists have said that this pandemic is a long-term thing, and it won’t just go away like that.

“It has changed the way we run our business completely and it has also changed the whole world. I think it’s something that is probably going to stay for a while.”

But despite COVID-19 making the world almost unrecognisable in many ways, Mr Patel believes there are still some positives to be taken from it.

“Although it has been so hard, it has been an education, in a way. I think it has led to good practice, in terms of hygiene.

“It’s made us work more safely and all of these measures that have been put in place will hopefully improve things.”

“Just as children are able to learn easily, they can also forget easily”, he says.

“To get back into a routine will be a challenge. Students may find it hard, having not been in an environment like this on a regular basis for so long.

“Different behaviours will have developed in some children while they were stuck at home. We have to be conscious of things like depression and anxiety, that could have increased over lockdown.

“It won’t be easy to re-enforce school procedures and disciplines, given the new circumstances. It will be hard work.”

First Class Learning Bradford is now open seven days a week, from 10am to 6pm every day, Mr Patel says, while, from September, all of its services will be free of charge, as part of a national programme which aims to support pupils’ learning in the wake of coronavirus.

“The National Tutoring Programme is a massive thing for our area and will hopefully help to improve aspirations in our community”, said Mr Patel.

“Some communities, including what they call the ‘BAME’ community, are under-performing, so this is a really good opportunity to raise aspirations.”

Parents can also book a free initial diagnostic assessment at one of First Class Learning’s centres, by visiting