Union criticises ‘pitiful’ £1.4bn Covid catch-up plan for England pupils | Education

Join Hafta-Ichi to Research the article “Union criticises ‘pitiful’ £1.4bn Covid catch-up plan for England pupils | Education”

The £1.4bn announced for the post-pandemic catch-up programme for pupils in England is “pitiful” and a fraction of that committed by other countries to help children’s education, a school leaders’ union has said.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), hit out at the government on Wednesday as it faced scrutiny over why the money is about a 10th of the £15bn total understood to have been recommended by the education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

Barton said the government package was “dispiriting” and accused the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, of having lower ambitions for children than those of his union’s members.

“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’,” he told Sky News.

“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. So what is it about those children in the Netherlands or the USA that makes them worth more than our government seems to say? It’s time to stop the rhetoric I think and start the action on behalf of children and young people.”

During a series of interviews of Wednesday, Williamson struggled to explain the discrepancy between the announced government spending and that recommended by Collins, who was appointed in February by Downing Street to lead efforts to make up for the damage done by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly to pupils from more deprived backgrounds.

The education secretary was asked multiple times on Sky News about either the difference in the two sums or about the discussions with the Treasury about funding as he declined to give a direct answer.

He was asked similar questions several times on BBC Breakfast.

Williamson told BBC Breakfast: “What we’re looking at are the interventions that we can actually deliver today, make sure that we’re able to get the money on the table out to schools in order to support them in order to be able to help our children while they’re in school, straight away …

“I didn’t – and I don’t think the prime minister or the chancellor did either – wanted to be in a situation where we were waiting for a comprehensive spending review to get money out of the door, in order to be able to having a positive impact in terms of children’s lives. And that’s why we’ve done this quite, you know, unprecedented intervention, outside of the spending period where we’re actually getting an extra £1.4bn out in order to drive this tutoring programme and teacher quality programme forward.”

Williamson said the government was on course to have 250,000 children in the tutoring programme to help fallen-behind pupils catch up by the end of the year. He said the extra cash would increase that number to up to 6 million pupils.

Asked why the school day had not been extended, he told Sky News the government was focusing on the measures “we can deliver most rapidly”.

Labour has pledged it would provide an extra £14.7bn over the next two years to ensure pupils catch up and to reduce extra attainment gaps created by the disruption.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Union criticises ‘pitiful’ £1.4bn Covid catch-up plan for England pupils | Education

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *