No comprehensive plan from the government – another sticking plaster for COVID recovery

The Government’s education recovery plan announced today confirms that there is no plan.

Any additional spend on children and young people is always welcomed but it is not enough.

A narrow view of childhood has led the government to prioritise a huge tutoring programme at the expense of measures that take a more rounded view of children’s lives. Children’s outcomes cannot be divided into neat boxes called ‘education’, ‘health’ or ‘social care’. Funding educational catch-up programmes without a clear vision for what a child-led recovery looks like will not deliver value for money or deliver the sustainable improvement in outcomes the government seeks.

NCB, in partnership with other children and young people's organisations, is calling for a cross-government strategy that addresses the needs of babies, children and young people from conception to the age of 25.

Recovery plan principles

The Public Accounts committee agrees that we need to have clarity regarding lessons learnt and clear metrics to determine impact of future spendA more strategic approach to recovery will enable better outcomes for children.

Although the educational recovery measures announced today talk about the most disadvantaged children, NCB will be seeking assurances that the expansion of tutoring courses will be fully inclusive of  all children including those who receive Pupil Premium,  disabled children and, those with special educational needs and the issues with digital access have been addressed. 

The government has also committed to a review of the impact of a longer school day.  We don’t need another sticking plaster to remove the impact of the pandemic.  Any serious consideration of lengthening the school day must be done in partnership with schools, parents and children themselves and offer new activities focussed on the needs of the child not the curriculum.

Our experience is that the children who could most benefit from these activities – children with mental health difficulties, disabled children, children who experience bullying in class – are often those who miss out because their needs have not been planned in form the start. Only by committing to a fully inclusive offer, and asking schools to co-produce this with children and parents, can the government ensure the additional time and investment would reach the children who most need it.