A cross-sector group of educationalists, charities, business leaders, unions and young people have urged the Government to reconsider its pandemic recovery measures for children and young people, asking them to urgently boost investment.
In two separate letters to the Prime Minister, coordinated by Fair Education Alliance and the National Children’s Bureau, and signed by over 240 leaders from across business, education and the charity sectors, campaigners have again urged the Government to invest in their stated intention of levelling up and show real ambition for the recovery for children and young people.
While researchers estimate that £13.5bn is needed to help children recover from a year of disruption, isolation and anxiety, the Chancellor has committed to spend only one tenth of this amount.
Campaigners insist the pandemic has deepened the existing crisis in funding for the education of disadvantaged children. Alongside extra money for schools to spend on staff development and interventions for pupils, a wider investment in measures to address the impact of Covid-19 on children and young people, such as reversing rising child poverty, reducing waiting times for mental health help for children and young people, and investing in the services that protect children from abuse and neglect, is urgently needed.
<<< BOTH LETTERS ARE AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE >>>
Alongside the letters, business leaders have highlighted that a strong education system and wider support for those in need of help is critical for future economic success:
Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said:
“The calls to action in these letters to the Prime Minster highlight essential issues that cannot go ignored. Business leaders share our view that the economic recovery and future prosperity of the UK rely on having a diverse, skilled and educated workforce, and that development starts with children. The signatories of these letters have shown a commitment to wanting investment in children’s future and we urge the Prime Minister to act before it’s too late.”
Experts are calling for the Government to set out a new and ambitious vision of childhood and education to support children, young people and their families to recover from the impact of COVID-19, with #ChildrenAtTheHeart.
Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children's Bureau, said:
‘The pandemic has affected every single child in the country, causing untold disruption to their education, development and welfare. Children with disabilities, those suffering from trauma, and the millions living in poverty have been hit the hardest. Yet the money promised to help their recovery falls far short, and sends the message to struggling families that they simply aren’t a priority for the Government. As well as making up lost ground in education, we have to fight for a better deal for our children, one that protects their mental health, secures them adequate support services, and overcomes the devastating effects of poverty. The breadth of organisations calling for government to realise this is too wide-reaching to ignore.’
Sam Butters and Gina Cicerone Co-CEOs of the Fair Education Alliance said:
‘Our Alliance wants to work with government at this moment of opportunity to achieve the ambition of the levelling-up agenda and education recovery, but we need the scale of investment to match the scale of ambition. The breadth of support behind this letter from so many organisations, individuals and young people themselves shows that tackling disadvantage and putting children at the heart of recovery is a critical priority for our country right now.’
Whilst the £1.5 billion investment in education announced on 2nd June is welcome, this level of investment is not nearly enough to support holistic recovery plans for children and young people.
Youth ambassador, Princess Emeanuwa, 18 years old, said:
‘It is important for the government to invest in young people's education now because we are currently at a tipping point in education, for over a year now education has been disrupted by the effects of COVID-19 and young people are fed up of an uncertain future’
Crucially, there was already significant inequality between poorer pupils and their wealthier peers pre-pandemic which required investment: these have been exacerbated. Recovery plans need to take this into account, as well as the damage done by lockdowns.
Dr Vanessa Ogden, Chair of the Fair Education Alliance and CEO of Mulberry Schools Trust, said:
‘This moment presents an opportunity for our government to demonstrate in hard cash terms a genuine commitment to children in post-Covid recovery and, through their education, to the prosperity and future well-being of this country. We believe that children and young people deserve this investment in them per se, but if other arguments are needed then our future as an agile, competitive economy depends on their success. We all stand to benefit from a future with well-educated, highly skilled and socially and mentally healthy workforce, undamaged by poor investment in pandemic recovery. This investment in our country’s future has to be a priority and we call for our government’s attention to the matters we have set out in our letter.’
About the letters
The National Children’s Bureau coordinated a letter to the PM signed by over 140 organisations including charities, unions and community organisations.
The Fair Education Alliance coordinated a similar letter to the PM signed by over 100 educationalists, young people, businesses and charities.
Embargoed copies of the letters are available here and here.