The Government has announced new funding to help children in England catch up on face-to-face learning time lost during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Under a new funding programme announced by the Government, state schools will be able to access funds through a one-off Recovery Premium totalling £302m for the delivery of additional clubs, activities in the summer and support for disadvantaged students. A further £200m will also one made available to secondary schools in England to allow the delivery of extra classes during the summer.
Schools in England have been closed to all pupils (except vulnerable children and the children of key workers) since the start of the Christmas break – except for one day in January on which some schools reopened before lockdown measures were announced. While schools remained open in England’s second lockdown, the closures during the first and third lockdowns mean that most pupils have now lost months of valuable learning time.
Under current plans, schools will have the option to access funds for running summer schools, though who they will be open to and how long they will last will be up to each school.
Speaking about the new support, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said;
“Our package of measures will deliver vital support to the children and young people who need it most, making sure everyone has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential no matter their background.
“I know that longer-term support over the length of this parliament will be vital to ensure children make up for lost learning. Our Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, will be engaging with teachers, school and college leaders and families over the coming weeks and months to develop our longer-term plans.”
The announcement of plans and funding to support children in catching up on missed learning time has generally been welcomed, though some union leaders have warned that children should not be overwhelmed in one summer.
Labour have criticised the plans, claiming that more support is necessary. Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education said;
“This is not adequate and will not make up for the learning and time with friends that children have lost.
“There is no specific mention of supporting children’s mental health or wellbeing, which is fundamental to enabling their recovery from this pandemic.
“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak spent more on the failed Eat Out to Help Out Scheme than they will on our children’s recovery. This package amounts to just 43p per day for each child.”
Questions have also been raised by parents over whether their children will be eligible for taking part in summer schools, with uncertainty currently surrounding which schools will run programmes and for which students.
It is understood that extensions to the school day or school term are unlikely to take place this year.
Under the government’s plan for easing lockdown measures announced earlier this week, all school pupils in England are due to return to the classroom from 8 March.