Centre for Social Justice welcomes £1billion catch up plans

The Government has today announced a £1billion catch up package for children who have missed more than a term of school. This is very welcome news. Our Head of Education, James Scales, explains what the announcements means and why it is so important.There is a lot of focus on our economic recovery from the lockdown period, but making sure there is a strong social strategy alongside it will be just as important. We hope this is the first of many announcements to help our most disadvantaged communities bounce back.

Andy Cook, Chief Executive
New catch-up package is welcome news for children who have missed out on time in the classroom.
by James Scales, Head of Education

Even before the pandemic, many disadvantaged pupils faced the very real prospect of finishing school with their prospects in tatters. By the time they sat their GCSEs they were, on average, already 18 months behind their peers.

Covid-19 has dealt these children another harsh blow.

Many have poor digital access and face a litany of personal challenges. As a result, many are not able to learn properly. As the Sutton Trust has highlighted, just 8 per cent of teachers in the most disadvantaged state schools are receiving more than three quarters of work back. According to a study by UCL, one in five pupils are either doing no work or are doing less than an hour a day, and disadvantaged children fare the worst.

Without further action, an already wide attainment gap will be prised open even further. The EEF has calculated that school closures are likely to wipe out the progress we have made in reducing the attainment gap since 2011.

And that’s what makes the government’s recent intervention so timely. Today, it has announced a £1billion catch-up package to help children recover lost learning during lockdown.

£300 million will be available specifically for tutoring disadvantaged pupils. Suitable interventions will vary by case, but schools will be able to draw on a rich tapestry of tutoring organisations, including first-class CSJ alliance charities like Action Tutoring and The Tutor Trust.

Beyond that, school leaders will have access to £700 million for other support work to boost educational outcomes. And it is right that they have the freedom to use those funds how they see fit; after all, the challenges children face when they return to school will vary considerably.

We strongly welcome the government’s robust commitment to supporting the futures of our most disadvantaged learners. All pupils, regardless of background, should be free to make decisions about their futures based on their talents and hard work, and today’s announcement makes that prospect a more achievable one for many thousands of children.

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