On the 19th June, the Department for Education led by Gavin Williamson and No. 10 Downing Street led by Boris Johnson claimed they were launching a Billion Pound Covid catch-up plan, including £350 million for a new National Tutoring Programme. They stated that the tutoring scheme would “increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people over the 2020-21 academic year”. The Government statement is entitled “Billion pound Covid catch-up plan to tackle impact of lost teaching time – New measures to help primary and secondary pupils catch up” and it states
Children in England are set to benefit from a £1 billion Covid “catch-up” package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time, the Prime Minister and Education Secretary have confirmed. As plans continue for a full return to education from September, the government has announced £650 million will be shared across state primary and secondary schools over the 2020/21 academic year. Whilst head teachers will decide how the money is spent, the government expects this to be spent on small group tuition for whoever needs it. This one-off grant to support pupils in state education recognises that all young people have lost time in education as a result of the pandemic, regardless of their income or background. Separately, a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million, will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people over the 2020/21 academic year.
However according to this news piece in TES which was originally The Times Educational Supplements has established that roughly £143 million of the fund has yet to be assigned and their article suggests that the Head Teachers are very concerned which appears to be in conflict of the idea that they were also in charge of the other £650m.
Heads have said it “beggars belief” that a “big chunk” of the money has not yet been allocated, and warns that there is a “real danger” the benefit of the fund will be lost “the longer is takes to turn it into tangible support”.
Jules White, headteacher founder of the WorthLess? school funding campaign, said it was “dispiriting” that the full allocation of the money seemed to be a “mirage”.
“Disadvantaged children have been most adversely affected by the pandemic and as the government continues to set a course for examinations which fails to take into account the current challenges, it is impossible to see why students should be further let down if promised financial support for schools fails to materialise in full,” he said.
“There are also significant reservations about how the National Tutoring Programme will actually work. Yet again, we are weeks into a school term and yet there is no detail about who the tutors will be, how and where they will work and what their skills and specialisms are. Students and schools deserve much, much better.”
It is clearly very concerning as we are now nearly 1/6 of the way through the academic year and there is very little time left to get this resolved before Christmas. Perhaps Robert Halfon who is the Chair of the Educational Select Committee could add this issue onto his list of concerns which currently has the lack of funding for free meals for children over Christmas and other holidays including half term breaks during the current period of crisis. It is very clear that either this needs to be delivered as promised in mid June or we need Williamson and Johnson to explain why they have changed their minds and broken their promises.