National Audit Office have today (Wednesday) released a report on post-pandemic education recovery in schools.
Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Schools, said:
“Investment in children’s recovery was crucial yet Rishi Sunak said that the Conservatives had ‘maxed out’ funding and Ministers failed to deliver a National Tutoring Programme that works – with inevitable results.
“Now children’s recovery is set to suffer even more because of the Conservative Education Secretary’s abject failure to end the threat of education strikes and come to a settlement with trade unions.
“Labour would have delivered a comprehensive Children’s Recovery Plan enabling every child to bounce back after the pandemic.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“Schools have been working incredibly hard to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on pupils, but government support has been piecemeal and insufficient and its own recovery tsar resigned when ministers failed to back his plans with the funding needed.
“Given the financial squeeze schools are facing, recovery efforts could be undermined further when the tutoring programme subsidy ends, and the National Audit Office is right to question. this.”
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“Schools and colleges have moved mountains to support students’ education recovery and we are very pleased to see the progress being made. This is in spite of education recovery funding falling so far short of what the government’s own education recovery commissioner recommended that he felt obliged to resign from his post.
“The government’s initial delivery of the National Tutoring Programme through private providers was overly complicated and switching to a school-led system, something we suggested from the outset, has been a big improvement. However, it continues to be hampered by the fact that it is only a partial subsidy and schools have to make up the rest of the money themselves. This year the NTP allocation to schools covers only 60% of the cost of tutoring and next year this will fall to 25%. With school budgets already under enormous pressure, this is simply unsustainable.
“It was disadvantaged children that were hardest hit by the pandemic, and government support for their educational recovery has been inadequate. The extra funding has been undermined by soaring inflationary costs for schools and colleges which have put pressure on all areas of their provision. As we return to more normal conditions, in a post-pandemic era there must be a renewed emphasis and investment by the government in support for disadvantaged children through from early years to post-16 education.”
Jon Andrews, Head of Analaysis at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:
“This report on education recovery is timely and reminds us that many children lost significant learning time during the pandemic, and have yet to catch up. Our own research underlines that there has been a particularly adverse impact on outcomes for more disadvantaged children, and those living in the so-called “levelling up” areas of the country.”
“Unless we recover this lost learning, there could be a significant negative impact on both productivity and social mobility – yet education has not made it into the PM’s list of his top five priorities. The stand-off between government and unions over pay risks further disruption to learning, with particularly adverse impacts for children who have already fallen behind because of Covid. There is a big gap right now between the view of government and unions over pay, but it is essential that both sides work hard to find a solution that avoids further setbacks to our country’s education recovery.”
Rosamund McNeil, Assistant General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“The NAO’s report highlights the distance still to cover in closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The disadvantage gap continues to be wider than it was in 2019. The report makes clear that the Government has wasted valuable time diverting funds to third-party providers, limiting uptake of education recovery programmes such as the National Tutoring Programme, and failing to ensure that tutoring was always directed towards the most disadvantaged pupils.
“The NEU’s evidence to the NAO made clear that the pandemic hit after a decade of underfunding and neglect of education. Pressures on school budgets exacerbated recruitment, retention and workload pressures that left teachers and schools without the tools they needed to respond to crises.
“In its paltry response, the Government provided less than a third of the funding its own education recovery commissioner recommended, and now shows every intention of pulling further funding from the National Tutoring Programme, leaving schools to pick up the pieces.
“The Government must commit to providing adequate funding for education recovery, directly to schools. The Government must commit to a fully-funded, above inflation pay rise for school staff, to ensure we address the urgent recruitment and retention challenge, itself a risk to education recovery.”