Students will be offered 100 million hours of lessons as part of the Covid catch-up plan | Education


Students will be offered an additional 100 million hours of lessons under the post-pandemic catch-up plans unveiled today – but the government was immediately criticized for the £ 1.4 billion scheme, with its own warning from the tsar “more will be needed”.

After months of unprecedented school closures, £ 1.4 billion will be spent on up to 6 million sets of 15-hour tutoring courses for underprivileged students as well as an expansion of an existing fund for helping 16 to 19 year-olds with subjects such as English and math, the Department of Education (DfE) said.

There is also provision for additional training and support for teachers, as well as funding to allow some grade 13 students to repeat their last year if it is severely affected by the pandemic.

He gave no immediate verdict on the plans mentioned to extend school days by 30 minutes. This idea, criticized as being misplaced by some teachers’ unions, will be the subject of a separate examination to be made later in the year.

On the new spending plans, there was almost unanimity among the unions that the sums committed were insufficient, the National Education Union qualifying them as “insufficient and incomplete”.

Perhaps even more damaging for ministers, the announced spending is around a tenth of the £ 15bn total reportedly recommended by Sir Kevan Collins, who was appointed in February by Downing Street as recovery commissioner of education responsible for leading efforts to compensate for the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, in particular to students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

The official announcement of the new plan contained commendable quotes from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said it “should give parents confidence” – but the quote Collins posted was more circumspect.

Ensuring that all students catch up “will require a sustained and comprehensive support program,” said Collins, and while the latest announcement would help many children and teachers, “more will be needed to meet the scale of the challenge. “.

Government sources point out that the announced total for all catch-up work over the past 12 months is now closer to £ 3 billion and that ministers have pledged to implement a long-term plan for the process.

Mary Bousted, co-secretary general of the National Education Union, said: “Rarely has so much been promised and so little delivered. The pledged amount shows that the government “does not understand, nor appreciate, the essential foundations laid by education for the economic recovery of the country,” she added.

The National Association of School Principals (NAHT) called the investment “paltry” compared to plans in other countries and the amount spent to support businesses.

“After weeks of big talk and creating expectations for the resumption of education, this announcement only confirms the government’s lack of ambition in education. It’s a wet firecracker, ”said Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary. “Recouping education cannot be done on the cheap.”

The Association of School and College Leaders condemned what it called “a hugely disappointing announcement that is dropping children and schools across the country at a time when the government needs to step up and demonstrate its commitment to education.” Ideas to extend the school day could prove controversial if implemented, as reportedly recommended in Collins’ report to ministers. Polls have shown it is not very popular with parents, while unions have warned of the impact on family time and extracurricular activities.

Of the government’s mentoring plans, an additional £ 218million will go to the National Mentorship Program, which provides external support, with £ 222million for mentoring 16-19 year olds.

The biggest share, £ 579million, will be for ‘local tutoring’ – school services using new or existing staff. This will cover around 75% of the total costs, with schools contributing the rest. Over the next academic years, the proportion paid by schools will increase so that they end up covering most of the tuition fees, according to the DfE statement.

At the same time, Labor unveiled its party plan for resuming education, pledging an additional £ 14.7 billion over the next two years to ensure pupils catch up and narrow further achievement gaps created by the disturbance.

Particularly focused on the well-being of students after the pandemic, the money would be spent in areas such as additional breakfast clubs and activities for children, giving them more time to socialize and better support in matters. mental health.

The Labor plan would commit to offering small group tutoring for any child who needs it, more support for teachers, a ‘return to education bonus’ to ensure more spending for the most troubled children and extended free school meals during all holidays.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green contrasted what she called Labor’s “bold plan” with government commitments.

Speaking of the government’s plan, Green said, “This announcement mocks the Prime Minister’s claim that education is a priority. His own education recovery commissioner almost said that plan was insufficient. Sir Kevan Collins told ministers 10 times that level of investment is needed to help children recover. “

In a statement released with the plans, Johnson said: “Young people have sacrificed so much over the past year and as we recover from the pandemic we need to make sure that no child is left behind.

“This next step in our long-term catch-up plan should give parents confidence that we will do all we can to support children who have fallen behind and that every child will have the skills and knowledge they need to achieve. its potential. “

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