Catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins says he will “say it like it is” and that that he has “nothing to lose” by speaking his mind at such a “profound moment” for the education system.
Speaking openly at a panel event at the Schools North East curriculum conference, he said one of his challenges with the government was over recovery being led by early years settings and school and colleges themselves – rather than being led “top-down”.
And he said part of his role as education recovery commissioner – leading a comprehensive programme of catch-up aimed at young people who have lost out on learning during the pandemic – was to "stop bad things happening or the wrong things happening as well as encouraging people to do the right things".
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The former head of the Education Endowment Foundation said the role of education recovery commissioner had “come at the right time in my life for me personally” after he had already semi-retired and was “happily tucked away in his garden in Derbyshire".
He added: “The great thing about it is: I will say it as it is. I’ve got nothing to lose and I do think this a profound moment for our system.
“There are much better people than me that could have done it [the role]. I just happened to be the person they asked.
"Part of it [my role] is to stop bad things happening or the wrong things happening as well as encouraging people to do the right things, and there will be things…I know that there will be people at the end, quite rightly, who will say, ‘what the hell was he doing and what a disaster he made of that?’ That’s going to obviously be the outcome, but the bigger challenge is to make sure that we secure the resources we need.”
He also said that teachers should not be asked "to do more for no more" as part of the Covid catch-up effort.
But he said: "In my view, the recovery has to be early years setting, school and college-led. It can't be top-down.
"And that's a kind of challenge I'm getting into – and I'll talk to you openly about my challenges with government."
Sir Kevan also said the £1.7 billion catch-up funding already pledged by the government was “nowhere near enough” and “does not do this job”.