Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the education system is to receive an extra £1.8 billion in funding to resolve the disruption caused by repeated lockdowns and in-person teaching cancellations due to students or staff receiving a positive Covid test. Approximately £1 billion will be reserved for disadvantaged primary and secondary school children, with the money largely being allocated towards extra-curricular activities and extra tuition for pupils who require it. The Telegraph has the story.
“The Chancellor has shown that we will put money behind enhancing the recovery we know is already under way for young people, building on the real impact of the steps we’ve taken so far, whether that’s tutoring, world-class teacher training or summer schools”.
The majority of the new catch-up cash – £1 billion – will be earmarked for disadvantaged primary and secondary school children aged under 16.
Schools will be allowed to decide how to spend the money but they will be encouraged to use it for evidence-based interventions such as small-group tuition and extra-curricular activities like sports, drama and art.
Meanwhile, the remaining £800 million will allow sixth form students, aged 16 to 19, to have an extra 40 hours a week of lessons over the academic year, which is equivalent to one additional hour a week for each school or college.
The amount of money set aside to fund pupils’ catch-up has been a source of tension in Whitehall. Earlier this year, the Government’s own catch-up tsar quit after warning that the amount of funding did “not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge”.
Sir Kevan Collins’ resignation in June came less than 24 hours after Gavin Williamson, then Education Secretary, announced a new £1.4 billion cash injection for pupil tuition and teacher training. Sir Kevan had advised ministers that Government funds of £15 billion over three years were necessary to reverse the damage done by Covid to pupils’ education.
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, accused Sunak of coming up with a catch-up plan “on the cheap”.
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that while the funds were a “step in the right direction” they were “nowhere near what is needed”.
Mr Sunak told the Commons on Wednesday that an extra £4.7 billion of core funding will be provided to schools in 2024-25 and £153 million will be spent on early years education to “address the impact of the pandemic on the youngest children”. He also said that more than £200 million will be made available for holiday activities and food programmes.
Worth reading in full.