£1.4bn pupil catch-up cash branded ‘pitiful’ as recovery tsar admits more is needed

Support us and go ad-free

The coronavirus catch-up tsar has said “more will be needed” to help children recover learning lost during the pandemic as school leaders branded the government’s extra £1.4 billion funding “pitiful”.

The money, announced by the Department for Education (DfE) on Wednesday, will be used to offer pupils up to 100 million hours of tuition as part of the government’s catch-up programme for children in England who have faced disruption due to Covid-19.

But the £1.4 billion – made available on top of £1.7 billion already pledged – has come under fire following suggestions that the government’s education recovery commissioner called for 10 times as much to be invested.

Education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins
Education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins is reported to have called for £15 billion of funding and 100 extra hours of teaching per pupil (House of Commons/PA)

Kevan Collins, who is still considering long-term proposals to address the impact of Covid on children, reportedly called for £15 billion of funding and 100 extra hours of teaching per pupil.

In a statement, he said a “sustained and comprehensive programme of support” would be needed to get education levels “back on track”, adding that “more will be needed to meet the scale of the challenge”.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

During interviews with broadcasters, education secretary Gavin Williamson sidestepped questions about reports of a row with the Treasury over the funding, but did concede that “there will be more that is required”.

The Cabinet minister defended the money on offer, describing it as a “hefty amount”.

“It is quite unprecedented to be getting this quantum of money outside of a spending review,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Pressed further on LBC radio on whether he has requested an additional “£5-6 billion”, Williamson said: “It is incredibly tempting to get involved in divulging to you private conversations with the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, but I’m going to possibly sidestep this one, if that’s OK?”

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.

He told Sky News: “It’s pretty pitiful. Only yesterday we were hearing stories about extending the school day and, even if some people disagreed with it, at least there was a sense of ‘Let’s do something radical, let’s do something different’.

“Today’s announcement essentially equates to £50 per head; you compare that with the USA, which is putting £1,600 per head, per young person, or the Netherlands, £2,500 per head.

“It’s time to stop the rhetoric, I think, and start the action on behalf of children and young people.”

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “Today’s announcement falls far short of what is needed to secure an education recovery.”

Labour shadow education secretary Kate Green was also among the critics, telling broadcasters the investment “badly lets down our children and young people”.

“It’s a very limited announcement, I’m afraid, that the Government is making and children and young people can’t really afford to wait for this Government to get a sensible package that will properly address children’s educational recovery and their wellbeing,” she told Sky News.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us