Most students in England and Wales missed around 20 weeks of regular in-school contact time due to lock down measures in 2020 and 2021.
The government has introduced a number of policies to try and help students catch up with lost learning, funded with £1.4 billion.
The main official government document outlines several different initiatives which started in 2020 and run through to the end of 2021 and beyond, but are these measures really enough to help students catch up on so much lost learning?
Some of the measure include:
- The covid catch up and recovery premiums
- Extra funding for the National Tuition programme
- £200 million additional funding for summer schools in summer 2021.
- Extra training and support for teachers
- Mental health and well being support.
The Covid Catch up Premium
This was £650 million allocated to schools to help them provide catch up lessons in 2021, including running summer schools.
This amounted to £80 per pupil up to year 11 inclusive, £240 for SEND pupils.
If that doesn’t sound like a lot, that’s because it isn’t a lot.
The Covid Recovery Premium
This was an additional £350 million for the 2021-2022 academic year for schools delivering ‘evidenced based approaches’ to helping students catch up. This money is supposed to be targeted and economically disadvantaged and SEND pupils.
£200 million for summer schools
You can read about the government guidance for summer schools here, there’s not much to say about this other than this isn’t a lot of money to go around all schools in England and Wales!
More money for the National Tutoring Programme
An additional £218 million for the National Tutoring Programme which specialises in running additional support classes for small groups of pupils.
The target was for there to be packages of 15 hours extra tuition for the most in-need students on top of all of the extra support already mentioned above.
Besides the above the government also outlines more training support for teachers, mental health and well being funding and holiday food clubs, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that most of these were already planned before Covid and the government are just re-hashing them and ‘labelling’ them as extra support for Covid-recovery?!?
Criticisms of these government measures
- There is wide spread condemnation among teaching unions and other commentators that £1.4 billion is no where near enough money to make up for lost learning. This figure is also pitifully small compared to the amounts being spent on education catch up by other similar European counties. The UK is spending £50 a head, The Netherlands are spending £2500 a head.
- Like with other forms of ‘compensatory education’ these measures are a sticking plaster. They do nothing to tackle wider inequalities in the UK and which is the root cause of poorer pupils having fallen further behind as a result of the pandemic compared to pupils from wealthier backgrounds.
- I’m not convincing that everything in the covid-recovery plan is actually new, I’m sure a lot of it was already planned before the pandemic, and has been rebranding as part of covid-recovery policy!
This post has been written primarily for students of A-level sociology and should serve as a useful update for education policies, which are taught as part of the education module.
Aspects of these policies are also a contemporary example of compensatory education, as some of the funding is aimed at disadvantaged pupils.
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