£1bn to help pupils catch up after lockdown

The government is to give an extra £650 million to schools in England to help pupils catch up on teaching missed since March, as part of a £1 billion package.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will also a separate £350 million in subsidies for a one-year national tutoring programme to help the most disadvantaged children in their education by offering low-cost tuition for schools to purchase.

The subsidised tutoring being offered through the new programme from September is likely to cost state schools £12 an hour in the scheme’s first year, compared with the £50 an hour usually charged by the private providers involved.

The national tutoring programme (NTP) is to put out an 'open call' for organisations that want to enrol and receive funding, allowing state primary and secondary schools to receive 'heavily subsidised tutoring' from the programme’s approved list of partners.

School leaders have said that the final details of the funding to be spent in the 2020-21 academic year would determine how they could use the extra resources, but many have so far expressed enthusiasm if schools are given latitude on how to best spend the money.

Williamson said: "This package will make sure that every young person, no matter their age or where they live, gets the education, opportunities and outcomes they deserve, by spending it on measures proven to be effective, particularly for those who are most disadvantaged. The plan will be delivered throughout the next academic year, bringing long-term reform to the educational sector that will protect a generation of children from the effects of this pandemic.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We are very pleased to see that leaders will be able to decide how this money is spent on evidence-based interventions, as they know their pupils the best, and are experts in identifying learning gaps. It remains frustrating that we haven’t had the opportunity to discuss any of this with the government before this announcement and that we once again find ourselves having to guess the detail. We really do need a much more collaborative approach so that the government and profession can together work on developing a really effective, joined-up national plan."