Education, education, education was the refrain of the Labour Party at the turn of the century. Now the National Education Union say that education recovery has got to be the top priority again.
Despite claims to the contrary, schools have been underfunded for years. The NEU say that Schools have experienced whole school budget reductions, rising costs and pupil numbers, meaning that in 2019 schools were £2 billion poorer than they were in 2015.
Because of Covid 19, significant investment is needed so that schools and colleges can feel equipped to fully support young people and their families, ensuring everyone in education in the UK is able to reach their full potential. There are no quick or cheap fixes. That is why Sir Kevan Collins, the Government’s own appointed Education Recovery Commissioner, recommended £15bn for a proper recovery strategy.
The Education Policy Institute recommended a similar figure saying: “Our analysis and international benchmarking implies that these plans need to be much larger to have a real chance of catching up on lost learning”
It is fast becoming a consensus view across the teaching profession. However, the Treasury have put forward £1.4bn. Boris Johnson believes this will “give parents confidence”, but no one is fooled. This is short change. The Government is cutting corners on Covid 19. And that is why Sir Kevan Collins resigned.
In England, the Government’s pledge amounts to just £50 per pupil per year for education recovery.
The average primary school will receive the equivalent of just £22 a year per pupil. By contrast, the USA have pledged £1,600 per pupil and the Netherlands £2,500 per pupil. Not only are the Government offering 1/50th of what the Netherlands are delivering, but 1/10th of what was recommended by their own Commissioner.
If we are to protect an education system that supports high standards and places pupil wellbeing and mental health at its heart, then the Government must properly resource education recovery. No ifs or buts. Without a comprehensive and urgent response, we risk failing hundreds of thousands of pupils. We are calling on the Government to provide the funds schools need to best help children recover from this pandemic. As Sir Kevan Collins said: “Without a comprehensive and urgent response, we risk failing hundreds of thousands of pupils.”
Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This is a hugely disappointing announcement which lets down the nation’s children and schools at a time when the government needed to step up and demonstrate its commitment to education.”
“The amount of money that the government plans to put into education recovery is insufficient and shows a failure to recognise the scale of learning loss experienced by many pupils during the pandemic – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
He also says that the Government has: “shown a depressing but predictable lack of ambition.”
Schools and colleges will also be given the option to offer year 13 the option to repeat their last year, which the Department for Education said it would fund for additional places.
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