Following the Government announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions, which begins with the reopening of schools from 8 March, a further statement has been made on the education recovery package. The aim of this is to support children and young people who have missed key elements of their learning and development due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Government has allocated £700 million for the recovery package. This will focus on an expansion of one-to-one and small group tutoring programmes, as well as supporting the development of disadvantaged children in early years settings. There will also be summer provision for pupils most in need.
An additional element of the package will be a new, one-off Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools which will be in addition to the Pupil Premium. The funding can be used by schools for whatever purposes they see as most important to support disadvantaged students.
This £700 million includes the £300m of new money that, at the end of January, the Prime Minister announced would be made available for catch-up tutoring. The NASUWT will clarify whether this funding will be allocated from the DfE’s 2020-23 schools budget or is additional funding from the Treasury. This was in response to the lockdown period being extended beyond the suggested date of February half term, which meant many pupils remaining at home and learning remotely for a longer period than initially outlined.
The announcement has been published on the Government website.
The package of support also follows the £400m investment from the Government to deliver more than one million laptops and tablets to the most disadvantaged children and young people across the country. While this funding was welcomed by the NASUWT, teachers, school leaders and the Union have raised concerns that the scheme was slow to be introduced and some of the technology is too outdated to be of real benefit to the pupils receiving the devices.
Details of the Education Recovery Package
The new, one-off Recovery Premium of £302 million for state primary and secondary schools will build on the Pupil Premium to further support those pupils who need it most. The average primary school will receive around £6,000 extra, with the average secondary school being given an additional £22,000. The NASUWT will clarify with the DfE the methodology for the allocation of this funding.
The Government has stated that the funding will help schools to bolster summer provision for their students, such as the running of clubs and activities, or for evidence-based approaches for supporting the most disadvantaged pupils from September.
Tutoring provision and expansion of the National Tutoring Programme
There will be £83 million used to expand the National Tutoring Programme for primary and secondary schools. This has been shown to boost catch up learning by as much as 3-5 months at a time (the source for this is unconfirmed).
The NASUWT has previously published guidance on the NTP.
There will be £102m assigned to an extension of the 16-19 Tuition Fund for a further year to support students in English, maths and other vocational and academic subjects. There will then be £18m of funding to support language development in the early years, which is a critical stage of child development.
There will be £200 million made available to secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer schools. While schools will be able to deliver this provision based on the needs of their pupils, the Government has suggested schools may want to initially target incoming Year 7 pupils.
This funding sits alongside the wider financial support that is made available though the Holiday Activities and Food Programme. Further information about the summner schools programme is available here
Starting from the summer term and throughout the summer holidays, a range of high-quality, online resources will be made available for all teachers and pupils. These will be provided by Oak National Academy. The aim of providing the resources is to help pupils to feel prepared for the next academic year.
Extended school days and shortened holidays
As part of the wider catch-up provision, there has been some suggestion that school days could be extended and holidays could be shortened to help children catch up. While this has not been confirmed, it has not currently been ruled out either.
Engagement with the teaching profession
In the announcement of the Education Recovery Package, the government has re-emphasised that Education Recovery Commissioner Sir Kevan Collins will be engaging with teachers, school and college leaders, educational charities and families to develop longer term catch-up plans. Part of this will be reviewing how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the pandemic has had on learning.
The NASUWT will continue to seek assurances from the DfE that the Union will be involved in this process as a valued and informed representative of the profession.
The NASUWT recognises the profound impact the disruption from the pandemic has had on the educational progress and achievement of many children and young people, as well as their emotional wellbeing. This is notwithstanding the commitment, dedication and professionalism demonstrated by teachers and school leaders in delivering high-quality learning during the lengthy crisis.
While the NASUWT welcomes the announcement of this additional funding, we do not feel it is enough given the detrimental effect the pandemic has already had in children’s lives. Education recovery cannot be truly meaningful unless it is taken seriously by the Government and properly funded. It can also not be at the expense of teachers and support staff in schools who, even prior to the pandemic, are under extreme pressure and struggle to maintain a work/life balance.
The NASUWT believes the Government must commit to recruiting a significantly higher number of staff to provide an ambitious programme that will deliver the education recovery that all children and young people deserve.
As part of a broader approach to deliver a continuous and sustainable recovery from the pandemic, the NASUWT stands firm that substantially more investment will be needed to provide increased capacity to meet the needs of children, young people and families.
The NASUWT also affirms that while activities held during the summer holidays may have a place, educational recovery is a long-term process. Schools will require ongoing, significant levels of support and investment to truly make a difference to lost learning that children and young people have faced. After more than a year of serious disruption, the NASUWT does not believe that summer schools will fully address this, regardless of how well any programme is developed and implemented.
The NASUWT will continue to monitor for further information and more details following this initial announcement.
We will be raising with the DfE our concerns over the potential impact this, or any future catch-up activity, will have on teachers and schools leaders. The NASUWT will also express our concern that this programme does not go far enough to deliver support for children and young people who have been disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic.
The Union is seeking prompt assurances that all programmes will be designed and implemented in a way that ensures the full range of teachers’ and school leaders’ statutory and contractual employment rights are respected and not affected in any way.