United Kingdom pledges fund to help children catch up after COVID school closures

Henrietta Strickland
Февраля 26, 2021

Chris King, chief executive of the Severn Academies Educational Trust, which includes Kidderminster's Baxter College, Stourport High School and several primary schools in and around Wyre Forest, believes the government should have agreed on a staggered start back for pupils. "The risks of not reopening schools are high".

Families and childcare bubbles will be encouraged to get tested regularly.

English primary and secondary schools were closed to the majority of pupils from Jan 5 as part of lockdown measures. Only vulnerable children and children of key workers are now allowed to attend schools for face-to-face learning.

Mr Johnson's optimism on school reopening is built on the success of the vaccination programme, as more than 17 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine in the United Kingdom as of Feb 22.

What is the Government planning to help children catch up?

Boris Johnson has announced an extra £400 million of funding - on top of the £300 million pledged in January - to help pupils make up lost learning time following months of school closures.

The package will include an expansion of one-to-one and small group tutoring programmes, support for the development of children in early years and summer catch-up classes for those who need it the most.

"A full return from March 8 will be fine for primary and secondary schools as we've had a lot of those children in throughout the pandemic anyway".

He said secondary schools and colleges will "benefit from twice-weekly testing", although further details on how this will be delivered are yet to be confirmed.

Department for Education (DfE) officials are said to be studying the evidence and cost-effectiveness of adding on extra classes at the beginning and end of the day.

Sir Kevan Collins, an ex teacher, government adviser and former head of the Education Endowment Foundation, has been appointed to oversee the government's catch-up programme.

"Recovery can not happen in a single summer", he said, adding: "We need to trust schools to put in place a long-term approach based on what they know about the needs of their pupils".

Boris Johnson said the "extensive programme", backed by a total of £700m in funding, will give teachers the "tools and resources they need to support their pupils".

Labour's shadow education secretary Kate Green said the announcement was "not adequate and will not make up for the learning and time with friends that children have lost".

Edexcel's parent company Pearson has launched a review into British qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds, saying the pandemic has forced everyone to "adapt and rethink" how to assess young people. Targeted summer schools are one way to achieve this, and it's good that schools will have flexibility to decide what will work best for them and their staff. In addition, they will be offered regular voluntary tests for COVID-19 at school and at home.

"However, I want to take this opportunity to urge the members of our school's communities to remain aware and continue to follow national guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus".

He said: "I'm really pleased that it's been announced that pupils will be returning to school on March 8 as I have really missed having them all at school".

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