'No time to waste' on catch-up funds, heads tell Zahawi

Heads' leader says new education secretary's most important job is to get more funding for pupils' recovery from Covid

John Roberts

'No time to waste' on Covid catch-up school funding, NAHT leader Paul Whiteman tells new education secretary Nadhim Zahawi

The head of a school leaders’ union has told new education secretary Nadhim Zahawi that he has “absolutely no time to waste” in making the case for extra funding for pupils' recovery from the Covid pandemic.

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the NAHT, said that ensuring all students recover from the disruption caused by Covid is the most important challenge for the incoming secretary of state.

Covid education funding has been the source of major controversy after the government’s education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, resigned in response to plans being announced that only involved around a tenth of the funding he believed was needed.

Exclusive: Sir Kevan Collins resigns as recovery tsar

Background:  Catch-up plan a 'paltry', 'disappointing' 'damp squib'

Cabinet reshuffle: Zahawi replaces Williamson at the DfE

Mr Whiteman has said that Mr Zahawi will now need to convince the Treasury to invest more.

“There is a long list of pressing matters for the new secretary of state to attend to but none is more important than making sure schools are able to deliver a successful recovery for all pupils, following so many months out of the classroom," he said.

Covid catch-up funding 'should be Nadhim Zahawi's number one priority'

“The prime minister's promise that no child would be left behind due to learning lost during the pandemic now needs to be delivered. Schools will need a radically more ambitious package of investment from the Treasury in order to get the job done.

“Convincing the chancellor is the key. And whilst there will be many different conflicting priorities at the Treasury this autumn, the case must be made that funding educational recovery is an investment in this country's future, not simply another drain on the nation’s finances.

“The best investment the government can make right now is in the country’s future citizens and workforce.

"The education secretary must quickly turn rhetoric into investment and into action. With the comprehensive spending review scheduled for next month, there is absolutely no time to waste.”

Sir Kevan was appointed by prime minister Boris Johnson as the government's catch-up tsar tasked with producing a plan to ensure that pupils could recover after two periods of school closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was revealed that he had asked the government to fund a £15 billion catch-up package that included a longer school day.

But he resigned after the Department for Education announced plans for just £1.4 billion's worth of spending, which did not include extending the school day.

Ministers said at the time that the next stage of their plans would include “a review of time spent in school and college and the impact this could have on helping children and young people to catch up”.

They said the findings of this will be set out to inform the government spending review.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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