Rachel Hopkins MP has accused the Conservatives of neglecting children’s futures after announcing a recovery package that is 10 times less than their education catch-up ‘tsar’, Sir Kevan Collins told them is needed.
The Conservatives’ measly package provides nothing to boost children’s wellbeing or social development, despite parents saying this is their top concern after the isolation of lockdown, while instead choosing to reinvest in their failing tutoring programme that is currently reaching just 1% of school pupils.
In contrast, Labour’s new Children’s Recovery Plan would harness children’s excitement at being back in school with their friends by creating new opportunities for young people to play, learn and develop.
To build on the incredible work of teachers, school leaders, teaching assistants and support staff during the pandemic, Labour’s plan would give all schools the resources to deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.
Labour’s plan, which reflects engagement with schools, parents, and children, would deliver
- Expand funding for breakfast clubs and extracurricular clubs: to encourage children to play and socialise after months away from their friends.
- Quality mental health support in every school: give every child the support they need to transition back to school.
- Small group tutoring for all who need it, not just 1%: make small group teaching available to all children who need it not just the 1%.
- Continued development for teachers: Support our teachers with training and development after a highly stressful period.
- An Education Recovery Premium: Target investment to those who faced the most disruption and double Pupil Premium for children in key transition years.
- Ensure no child goes hungry: no child will go hungry with Labour, by extending free school meals over the holidays, including the summer break.
The Government has been warned that failing to help children to recover lost learning could cost the economy and taxpayer as much as £420 billion – almost 30 times the cost of Labour’s comprehensive £15bn plan.
Children across Britain have had more time out of school than anywhere else in Europe which, combined with the Conservatives’ delayed delivery of laptops and devices for remote learning, has seen the gap in learning between children on free school meals and their peers increase.
Even before the pandemic children on free school meals in Luton South were 16.6 months behind their non-disadvantaged peers. The result of a decade of Conservative government that imposed the largest cuts to education for 40 years and oversaw increasing child poverty.
Rachel Hopkins MP said
“The Conservative Party has repeatedly failed our children and young people during the pandemic, and now they are failing to provide the level of investment needed to support their recovery.
Children and young people need a bold innovative plan to not only help them catch up on lost learning but also to enable them to develop and thrive. The Government must match their ambitious vision for their future and put them at the heart of our national recovery.
The Labour Party’s plan, informed by speaking to parents, teachers, and children, will deliver the world-class education that the future of our country depends on.”
- Pupils in local authority: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/cba5fb28-1585-44a1-ab46-6e72adc7c684
- School catch-up tsar resigns over lack of funding: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-57335558
- Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would invest £14.7 billion of two years: https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/15059_21-Childrens-Recovery-Plan.pdf
- Parents have reported their children’s wellbeing and social development to be their top concern post-pandemic: 56% of parents in an IpsosMori poll named increased wellbeing as their top priority to help children catch-up: https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/three-ten-home-schooling-parents-say-it-did-not-go-well
- 89% of mums felt lockdown took a big toll on the mental health of children and young people, and 77% of mums are more worried about children missing out on social skills as result of lockdown: https://britainthinks.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BT-and-MN_Mums-and-lockdown_webinar-deck_11.03.21_For-publication.pdf
- Tutoring reaching just 1%: At an education select committee hearing on 29 April, Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP said: “the latest figures are that of those enrolled, over 110,000 have commenced tutoring and 44% of those are eligible for pupil premium funding.” This equates to just 1.24% of children receiving support under the Government’s tutoring scheme. https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2142/pdf/
- The Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker shows children in the UK have spent more time out of school or university than anywhere else in Europe: https://covidtracker.bsg.ox.ac.uk/
- The Education Policy Institute has estimated the cost to the economy of not supporting children to recover lost learning could be between £62bn – £420bn. https://epi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/EPI-Education-Recovery-Preliminary-Analysis-2021.pdf
- School spending per pupil in England fell by 9% in real terms between 2009–10 and 2019–20. This represents the largest cut in over 40 years. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/15025
- 4.3 million children were in living in poverty in March 2020 according to the Government’s latest figures, an increase of nearly 700,000 since 2010. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-2014-to-2020/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-fye-2015-to-fye-2020
- The average secondary school class size has risen to its highest level since 2001 under the Conservative’s, with the average class now at 22 pupils: https://www.tes.com/news/secondary-school-class-sizes-biggest-19-years#:~:text=Average%20secondary%20school%20class%20sizes,2019%20to%2022%20in%202020