How does the government’s new education recovery plan compare to other countries?

The education recovery plan will see children and young people across England offered up to 100 million hours of free tuition to help them catch up on learning lost during the pandemic. 

As part of the next step in the government’s plans to boost education recovery, a total of £1.4 billion is being invested, including £1 billion to support up to 6 million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged school children, as well as an expansion of the 16-19 tuition fund, targeting key subjects such as maths and English. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Young people have sacrificed so much over the last year and as we build back from the pandemic, we must make sure that no child is left behind. 

“This next step in our long-term catch-up plan should give parents confidence that we will do everything we can to support children who have fallen behind and that every child will have the skills and knowledge they need to fulfil their potential.” 

It will provide the opportunity for evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners, including through new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development for the youngest children. 

Part of the investment will expand existing teacher training and development to give 500,000 school teachers the opportunity to access world leading training from new teachers to headteachers. 

Schools or colleges will be able to offer students in Year 13 the option to repeat the year if they have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. Schools and colleges will be funded to help accommodate the additional student numbers. 

However, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has hit back at the announcement and classed the education recovery plan as ‘inadequate’. 

The EPI’s analysis finds that the government’s new education recovery plan of £1.4bn amounts to around £50 extra per pupil per year – a fraction of the level of funding required to reverse learning loss seen by pupils since March 2020. 

Two weeks ago, EPI published research findings which showed that a three-year package totalling £13.5bn will be required from the government to undo the damage to pupils’ learning as a result of the pandemic. 

Per pupil, this level of funding required to reverse pupil learning losses is ten times higher (£500 per pupil per year) than that which the government has set out today. 

The total level of funding committed for England over three years is £310 per pupil, which compares to equivalent total funding of £1,600 per pupil in the US, and £2,500 per pupil in the Netherlands. 

Jon Andrews, head of analysis at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said: “At £50 per pupil, our analysis shows that today’s funding package is a long way off what is required to remedy the lost learning seen by pupils over the last year. This was an opportunity for the government to offer significant investment in a range of evidence-based interventions that would help protect against long-run negative impacts to young people’s education and wellbeing. They have decided not to take that opportunity. 

“Today’s proposals are an inadequate response to the challenge the country is facing with young people’s education, wellbeing, and mental health.” 
David Laws, executive chairman of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: “The government’s education recovery package does not remotely match the scale of lost learning and is unlikely to be enough to support children to catch up on the many months of lost learning that most have suffered. 

“It appears that the government’s own Education Recovery Commissioner recommended a package of policies that would have delivered ten times the financial support unveiled today – £15bn, instead of the £1.4bn announced.  

“It is unclear why the government has chosen to ignore the evidence of how much it would cost to recover lost learning, but there must now be a real concern that learning loss will not be recovered and that the most disadvantaged pupils will fall permanently behind the rest.  

“In the longer term, the unmitigated learning losses could cause lower productivity, lower earnings, and lower tax revenues – so skimping on a properly funded recovery package will prove to be a false economy.” 

Jane Harley, policy & partnership director at Oxford University Press, said: “The Government’s announcement of an additional £1.4 billion to boost education recovery is welcome, but it does not seem to go far enough. Learners, as well as their teachers and parents, need to see significant investment as we recover from the pandemic, to ensure that schools’ education recovery plans can be fully and properly implemented.”

“In particular, we need to see further investment in literacy. Oxford University Press’s research has found worrying evidence of a heightened ‘word gap’ – where a child’s vocabulary is below age-related expectations – following school closures. This has an especially negative impact for disadvantaged learners, and is a significant concern since a word gap at 11 affects not just future attainment, but also wellbeing and motivation, so unnecessarily limiting future life chances.”

“We cannot allow children to become the long-term victims of lockdown measures. And we hope that the upcoming review into the time spent in school and college, will lay the foundations for more ambitious plans, reflecting the recommendations of the Education Recovery Commissioner, as we look towards the spending review this Autumn.”

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