Leeds charity says government's £14bn education recovery plan "will not come close" to narrowing inequality gap

Extra funding announced by the government today to stage an education catch up with a 100 million hours of tuition has been branded "nowhere near enough" by a Leeds education charity.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:50 pm

The Department for Education (DfE) revealed that an additional £1.4bn of funding - on top of the £1.7bn already pledged for catch-up - is being released to help pupils make up for lost learning following months of school closures.

It was announced as Labour published its two-year £14.7bn education recovery plan, which called for extracurricular activities to be expanded and mental health support in schools to be improved.

The DfE programme includes £1bn to support up to six million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils, as well as an expansion of the 16-19 tuition fund which will target subjects such as maths and English.

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Education secretary, Gavin Williamson.

A further £400 million will go towards providing high-quality training to early years practitioners and school teachers to ensure children progress and as also as part of the recovery package, some Year 13 students will be given the option to repeat their final year if they have been badly affected by Covid.

But the announcement - which has been made during the half-term break - does not include plans to lengthen the school day, or shorten the summer break.

Dr Helen Rafferty, Interim Chief Executive of Leeds-based education charity SHINE, said bolder ideas were needed if this generation was to full recover from the consequences of CIVID in the classroom.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "If this generation of children is to fully recover from Covid, bold, ambitious ideas are needed. Sadly, an investment of just £50 per child is nowhere near enough to deliver the long-term results needed to secure the best outcomes for children in the North.

Concerns over how the education funding will benefit pupils.

“While we welcome the government’s investment in quality teaching, including in the critical early years, and its commitment to programmes that are backed by research, we fear this disappointing announcement will not come close to narrowing the disadvantage gap in attainment that was already far too wide even before the pandemic.

“If it is serious about ‘levelling up’, the government must commit to significantly more investment in education recovery, both now and in the long-term. We believe a more targeted approach is vital if the playing field is to be levelled for all children. A significant increase to the Pupil Premium would help those schools who are serving the greatest need and give school leaders in those areas the freedom to use the funding to maximum effect.

“Education is not distinct from other challenges in society, the wellbeing and success of our children now is key to our collective future. SHINE calls on the government to back a sustained, school-led, targeted and long-term approach to building back from the Covid pandemic.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), denounced the funding as "dispiriting" and said it equates to just £50 extra per pupil, compared to the USA, which is putting £1,600 per head, per young person, or the Netherlands, at £2,500 per head."

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