£1 billion 'Covid catch-up plan' unveiled

School leaders 'frustrated' at not being consulted 'once again' as education secretary says new funding will 'protect a generation of children from the effects of Coronavirus pandemic'

£ 1 billion catch-up fund

The government has today announced a £1 billion package to help to tackle the impact of teaching time lost owing to the coronavirus crisis.

The "Covid catch-up plan", jointly announced by the Number 10 and the Department for Education, will include £350m to pay for a tutoring scheme for the most disadvantaged pupils as well as £650m to be shared across state primary and secondary schools during the academic year 2020-21 for all pupils who need it.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “This £1 billion catch-up package will help headteachers to provide extra support to children who have fallen behind while out of school."


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The DfE says school leaders themselves will decide how to spend the £650m, but that "the government expects this to be spent on small group tuition for whoever needs it."

Heads reacted with "frustration" that the government has "once again" failed to consult them. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We welcome this vital investment in helping children to catch-up with lost learning as a result of the coronavirus emergency.

"It remains frustrating that we haven’t had the opportunity to discuss any of this with the government ahead of this announcement and that we once again find ourselves having to guess the detail.

"We really do need a much more collaborative approach so that the government and profession can together work on developing a really effective, joined-up national plan.”

A proportion of the funding – £350 million –  has been earmarked specifically for 'National Tutoring Programme (NTP)' which aims to increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people, while preventing the gap between them and their more affluent peers widening, says the DfE.

The NTP – which has been created by the Education Endowment Foundation in partnership with The Sutton Trust and others – will give schools access to "heavily subsidised tuition from an approved list" of vetted tuition providers, who will themselves be funded and supported to ensure they can "reach many more disadvantaged pupils."

It will also offer "trained graduates" as "coaches" to schools to use for the "most disadvantaged areas to provide intensive catch-up support to their pupils, allowing teachers in these schools to focus on their classroom."

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “This package will make sure that every young person, no matter their age or where they live, gets the education, opportunities and outcomes they deserve, by spending it on measures proven to be effective, particularly for those who are most disadvantaged. 

“The plan will be delivered throughout the next academic year, bringing long-term reform to the educational sector that will protect a generation of children from the effects of this pandemic.”

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said: “Despite the heroic efforts of schools, many pupils’ learning has suffered as a result of school closures. These children are drawn disproportionately from disadvantaged communities and need extensive support.

“We are delighted that the government is announcing a large sum today to benefit those pupils who need it the most. We are proud to support the tutoring programme. Extensive trials show that high-quality tuition is a cost-effective way to enable pupils to catch up. Through a collaboration of organisations across the country, our aim is to make this tuition available to tens of thousands of primary and secondary school pupils. Our hope is that it becomes a powerful tool for teachers in the years to come.”

This £1 billion package is on top of the £7.1 billion three-year funding settlement announced last year.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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