Informed by the Bright Future Taskforce, @LabourUK has published a Children’s Recovery Plan setting out proposals for all children to ‘play, learn and develop’ in the post-Covid period.
Labour’s plan will invest £14.7 billion in the education system over the next two years, as a one-off funding boost to ensure no child is held back by the pandemic.
Labour’s plan would deliver:
- Breakfast clubs and new activities for every child: from breakfast clubs to sport, drama, book clubs and debating societies, a fully funded expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities to boost time for 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 and manage personal challenges, with access to qualified in-school counselling staff alongside boosting wellbeing through extra activities;
- Small group tutoring for all who need it, not just 1: make small group teaching available to all children who need it not just 1%, by reforming the Government’s failing tutoring programme to make sure no child falls behind because of pandemic disruption;
- Continued development for teachers: Teachers have had one of the toughest years of their careers – it is only by supporting them with training to stay on top of the latest knowledge and techniques that we can give every child a brilliant classroom experience;
- An Education Recovery Premium: support every child to reach their potential by investing in children who have faced the greatest disruption during the pandemic from early years to further education, and double the Pupil Premium for children in key transition years, delivering additional support for children who need it most;
- Ensure no child goes hungry: no child will go hungry with Labour, by extending free school meals over the holidays, including the summer break.
Who is in the Bright Future Taskforce?
Baroness Morris of Yardley is a former teacher and Secretary of State for Education and Skills; Chair of the Birmingham Education Partnership and joint Chair of the Association of Education Partnerships.
Estelleis an active member of the House of Lords and has chaired reviews into school performance in Liverpool and Oldham. She previously helped to establish the Institute of Effective Education.
Evelyn Forde MBE
Evelyn Forde is Headteacher of Copthall School, a highly regarded girls’ 11-18 academy with a comprehensive and culturally diverse intake in North West London.
Evelyn won the TES Headteacher of the Year Award in November 2020, followed shortly thereafter with being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List on 31 December 2020.
Andy Westwood is Professor of Government Practice and Vice Dean in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester.
He is a Visiting Professor of Further and Higher Education at the University of Wolverhampton.
He has also been a special adviser to ministers on education, skills and science policy at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and a senior adviser at HM Treasury and in the Departments for Education and Communities and Local Government.
Mick Waters was a teacher and head teacher before working at senior levels in Birmingham and Manchester Local Authorities.
He worked at a national level with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority where he was Director of Curriculum.
He works with local authorities and multi academy trusts and, over several years, has been asked to work in countries across the world with national governments or directly with schools to develop revised policy and practice for leadership, governance and classroom teaching.
Julian Grenier is the headteacher of Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Newham, East London. Sheringham is one of England’s 27 Research Schools, working with the Education Endowment Foundation to develop evidence-based practice and bring research closer to schools and early years settings.
Julian has worked in the early years for over 20 years and has a Doctorate in Education from the UCL Institute of Education (University of London).
Steve Munby is the former CEO of the National College for School Leadership and of Education Development Trust.
He is Visiting Professor at University College London, Centre for Educational Leadership and is Chair of the Teaching Awards Trust.
Francine Bates OBE
Francine Bates is a children’s charity sector leader with a strong focus on disability, Special Educational Needs, looked after children and child health.
Francine is currently Interim Director of External Relations with The Fostering Network and Non-Executive Adviser to the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. She was Special Adviser to Ed Balls at the Department for Education between 2007-2010.
Jonathan has been Councillor on Leeds City Council since 2014, and is now the Cabinet Member for Learning, Skills, Employment and Equality.
Leeds City Council’s Children’s Services was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in 2018, making Leeds the only ‘core city’ in the UK to be rated so highly.”
Hillary is NUS Vice President for Higher Education. She was previously the Undergraduate Education Officer and Chair of the Widening Participation Network at the University of Bristol Students’ Union.
A champion of students, Hillary has worked on many projects that have looked to support the most marginalised students in education and beyond.
Professor Dame Alison Peacock
Professor Dame Alison Peacock is Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching. Prior to joining the Chartered College, Dame Alison was Executive Headteacher of The Wroxham School in Hertfordshire. Her career to date has spanned primary, secondary and advisory roles.
She is an Honorary Fellow of Queens College Cambridge and a Visiting Professor of both the University of Hertfordshire and Glyndŵr University. Her research is published in a series of books about Learning without Limits offering an alternative approach to inclusive school improvement.
Kiran Mahil is a teacher and secondary school leader. She has worked for almost a decade in Tower Hamlets. (TBC)
Unless specified otherwise, all costs are revenue spending in both of the next two years. All figures are presented to the nearest million. For policies where there is a different cost in each of the next two years (teacher development fund, and both spending lines on alternative provision) the average cost is given.
Area of spending
Extended schools, extracurricular activities
Mental health support
Education Recovery Premium
School pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium
Children with child protection plans
Early Years Recovery Premium
Further Education Recovery Premium
£622 million, of which:
One off payment to replace pupil premium funding schools have lost
Extend the National Tutoring programme, reaching equivalent of all pupils eligible for free school meals
Extend existing tutoring support in further education
Teacher development fund
Training for teaching assistants to deliver tutoring
Fund pupils in further education to resit a year
Extend alternative provision to post-16
Increase spending on alternative provision by £3,000 per pupil
Double the Pupil Premium for those in transition years (one-off single year cost)
The total cost of the package would be £14.7bn across the next two years. In the first year, the cost is £7.7 billion because of the one-off doubling of the Pupil Premium for those in transition years and the one-off payment to replace lost pupil premium funding.
Labour calls out Prime Minister’s “catalogue of chaos” and ramps up pressure with vote on education recovery
Labour today [09 Jun] urged @BorisJohnson to end the “catalogue of chaos” on education that has plagued his premiership, and ask Conservative MPs to vote for an ambitious plan for children’s recovery before the summer holidays.
Opening Labour’s Opposition Day Debate on Investing in Children and Young People, Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“I beg to move that this House regrets the resignation of the education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, over the Government’s inadequate proposals to support children after the coronavirus pandemic; agrees with Sir Kevan’s assessment that the current half-hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of young people; and therefore calls on the Government to bring forward a more ambitious plan before the onset of the school summer holiday which includes an uplift to the pupil premium and increased investment in targeted supported, makes additional funding available to schools for extracurricular clubs and activities to boost children’s wellbeing, and provides free school meals to all eligible children throughout the summer holiday.
“It’s a privilege to open this debate. Today I want to invite hon and RHM’s from all parts of the House to put children and young people first, and support our motion.
“I don’t believe there is a single member of this House who doesn’t agree that children and young people are our country’s most precious asset, that as we emerge from the pandemic and begin to rebuild our country, their education and wellbeing must be our top priority, and that we owe it to them to match the ambition, optimism and enthusiasm they have for their own lives and their futures, with measures to ensure every child can enjoy an enriching childhood and achieve their full potential.
“So Honourable Members opposite must understand not just my dismay, but the dismay of every teacher and parent I have spoken to in the past week at the wholly inadequate announcement from the Secretary of State, providing just 10% of the funding the Government’s own highly respected expert education adviser Sir Kevan Collins had said was needed to enable Children and Young People to bounce back from the pandemic.
“If this government really wants to make good on the Prime Minister’s claim that children’s education is his priority, then the paltry announcement we got last week is simply inexplicable.
“As we know, the plans fall so far short of what is needed that Sir Kevan Collins refused to be associated with them and resigned last Wednesday. He described them as too small, too narrow, and too late. And he was right.
“There was nothing to support children’s social and emotional wellbeing, which parents and teachers have told us again and again is their priority for children and young people.
“While I support small group tutoring as an element of supporting children to catch up on lost learning, last week’s announcement of additional funding will amount to less than one hour of tutoring per fortnight per child, and the government’s package performs woefully when compared to that of other countries, amounting to just £50 per pupil compared to £1600 in the USA and £2500 in the Netherlands.
“And the suggestion that last week’s announcement is just an instalment, that there will be a review of what more is needed, is both wholly unnecessary when Sir Kevan has laid out a clear and comprehensive plan, and an insult to children who’ve already lost between 2 and 4 months of classroom time, and shouldn’t have to wait another term or more for the support they need to recover from the pandemic.
“The party opposite’s feeble plans are a terrible betrayal of children and young people’s own excitement at being back in class with their friends and teachers, their optimism and aspirations for the future. So today I hope we can come together as a house to agree to do better. Last week I was proud to publish Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – which proposes a package of measures for schools, early years and further education settings, to address both children and young people’s learning loss and their wellbeing.
“Mr Speaker, in recent months, parents and teachers have told us again and again that social-emotional wellbeing and time for children to be with friends is their top priority. That is why our plan would see all schools offering new extracurricular activities – from breakfast clubs, to sport, music, art and drama – creating time for children and young people to play and socialise, and removing the cost barrier that prevents all schools from offering, or all children from participating in, these activities.
“Such targeted programmes can also help accelerate pupil’s’ academic development, delivering two months of additional progress, rising to around three months for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. So it is all the more disappointing that the govt has failed to invest in these activities. In doing so, ministers badly let down our young people.
“Of course, children are resilient, and many will be able to overcome the challenges and disruption of the past 15 months, but some will struggle and need more help to recover. That’s why Labour’s plan also proposes funding to meet their needs by providing schools with additional resources to hire specialist counselling or mental health provision.
“Mental health support, and activities that make use of schools’ fabulous facilities to provide an enhanced offer at the end of the school day – activities that could of course be provided by voluntary of youth orgs coming onto school premises – are important in and of themselves. They also free up teachers to concentrate more of their time on children’s learning.
“But more must be done to make up lost learning, and while small group tutoring will help, the truth is that most children are going to do most of their learning in class, alongside their classmates. That’s why Labour would reverse the Government’s £133m stealth cut to pupil premium, and why we are calling for a further boost to the pupil premium in early years and in schools, as well as extending it to further education, to reach the most disadvantaged children and young people, including those with SEND or in Alternative Provision. This targeted funding will enable teachers to focus extra attention on the children who need it most, helping to close the attainment gap which Sir Kevan suggests could have increased by between 10 and 24% as a result of the pandemic.
“Finally – and Honourable Members must forgive a sense of déjà vu here – our motion calls on the government fully to deliver free meals to every child eligible for free school meals over the summer holidays.”
“The current guidance to the Government’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme proposes children receive this support on just 16 out of 30 weekdays this summer. No one in this House would think it acceptable for their children to be fed only once every two days. So why does the government think it acceptable for the 1.6 million children eligible for free school meals? Children don’t go on half rations just because it’s the holidays. The government must put this right before this term ends, to ensure no child goes hungry over the summer.
“Today, over 200 charities, education experts, business leaders, unions and young people have called on the Government to put children at the heart of our recovery. So it would be especially fitting for every Honourable Member of this House to support our motion today - support our call for the development of an ambitious recovery plan by the summer, that enables our children to access world-class education, receive support for their mental health and wellbeing, enjoy the opportunity to make the most of their childhood, and achieve their full potential.
“As adults, we have a responsibility to match the ambition that children have for their own future. That is why addressing the impact of the pandemic on young people must be our priority, for their life chances and their wellbeing, and for our country’s future success and prosperity
“Today’s motion sets out how Labour would make Britain the best country in the world to grow up in. This afternoon, I hope Honourable Member across the House will join us in voting for that bold ambition.”
Commenting after today’s (June 9) House of Commons Opposition Day debate on investing in children and young people,
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders’ union, NAHT, said:
“It is hard to overstate the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on school communities. However, school leaders and their teams have worked constantly over the past year and a half to keep children fed and safe, effectively reimagining the very concept of ‘school’.
“A truly ambitious educational recovery plan for this country will require a significant, multi-year investment that at least matches the scale of investment already seen in other parts of the world on a per-pupil basis. Crucially, any funding must be in addition to the designated schools grant. Recovery funding should not be used to mask or offset inadequacies in the funding schools currently receive.
“What we have seen from the government so far is well below par, in terms of its speed of response, the scope of its ambition and the depth of its pockets. Education recovery cannot be done on the cheap, but as things stand, that is exactly what the government is proposing.
“NAHT’s Recovery Blueprint offers seven key steps that the government should take to make sure that education emerges from the pandemic stronger and fairer than it went in. We strongly urge the government to take on board our recommendations.”
Responding to the Government abstaining on Labour’s opposition day motion on investing in children and young people, Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“The Conservatives’ decision to abstain on our children’s futures is disgraceful.
“Their education recovery plan delivers nothing for wellbeing, nothing for mental health and nothing for the children who’ve struggled most to learn from home.
“The Conservatives are letting down children and young people and refusing to engage with Labour’s bold proposals that would enable every child to achieve their potential.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Prime Minister has presided over a string of high-profile failures on education, peaking with the resignation of his education recovery commissioner - Sir Kevan Collins - last week, who decried the lack of ambition for children in the Conservatives’ education catch-up plan.
This latest failure follows a series of blunders under the Prime Minister’s leadership, including:
- Failing to feed children over the October half-term and having to be shamed into doing so over the 2020 Christmas and summer holidays
- An exams fiasco last summer as thousands of students received unfair grades amid the Government’s algorithm chaos, and a u-turn on holding exams this summer
- Testing chaos throughout the autumn term kept children out of school, with testing not in place for school kids until 5 months after Labour called for them to be prioritised
The Prime Minister has enabled this catalogue of errors to continue unabated after he allowed the Treasury to bulldoze Sir Kevan’s education recovery plan, despite giving it his personal support. The tutoring policy finally announced will deliver less than an hour of tutoring a fortnight to pupils across the next school year.
Today Labour is calling on the Government to finally listen to teachers, parents and young people and vote to bring back a plan for children’s recovery before the summer, which matches the ambition of Labour’s proposals put forward last week. Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, will discuss Labour’s plan with teachers and children at a breakfast club and school visit in London today.
If passed, the vote would require inclusion of policies set out in Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan such as providing funding for schools to deliver new extracurricular clubs and activities to boost wellbeing, deliver targeted support for children who have missed out most, and an extension to free school meals this summer ensuring no child goes hungry over the holidays.
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“This catalogue of chaos makes a mockery of the Prime Minister’s claim that education is a priority. Throughout his premiership children, young people and families have been let down time and time again.
“Boris Johnson has not lifted a finger to secure the investment in children’s futures his own education expert said is needed, announcing a recovery plan that is totally insufficient to help every child bounce back from the pandemic.
“Labour's bold plans would invest in our children’s futures, compensating for the Conservatives’ failures over the last year, to ensure all children can play, learn and develop after the pandemic.
“Conservative MPs will have the chance to vote with Labour today and finally commit to ambitious plans to invest in our children’s futures.”
MPs will vote on Wednesday 9 June on Labour’s Opposition Day motion:
That this House regrets the resignation of the education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, over the Government’s inadequate proposals to support children after the coronavirus pandemic; agrees with Sir Kevan’s assessment that the current half-hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of young people; and therefore calls on the Government to bring forward a more ambitious plan before the onset of the school summer holiday which includes an uplift to the pupil premium and increased investment in targeted supported, makes additional funding available to schools for extracurricular clubs and activities to boost children’s wellbeing, and provides free school meals to all eligible children throughout the summer holiday.
- Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan sets out bold policies for children’s recovery including funding for extracurricular clubs and activities, reversing the Government’s cut and investing in pupil premium and delivering free school meals over the summer holiday.
- School catch-up tsar, Sir Kevan Collins, resigns over lack of funding.
- The Prime Minister promised Sir Kevan money was no object but has rolled over in face of opposition from the Treasury.
- On 21st October 2020 Conservative MPs voted against Labour’s opposition day motion to: That this House calls on the Government to continue directly funding provision of free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021 to prevent over a million children going hungry during this crisis.
- The Government denied children free school meals over the October half-term.
- Boris Johnson u-turned twice on providing free school meals over the Christmas and then summer holidays in 2020.
- A-levels and GCSEs: U-turn as teacher estimates to be used for exam results.
- In January 2021, the Government cancelled exams again after promising they would go ahead this year.
- The Government’s testing chaos throughout the autumn kept children out of school.
- The Government did not get testing in place in schools until January – five months after Labour called for kids to be prioritised
Secretary of State confirms government’s current set of education recovery plans
7th June 2021: The Secretary of State has confirmed the government’s current set of education recovery plans.
NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said:
“Today’s statement confirms the disappointing scope and scale of the government’s ambition for children and young people. The government has missed an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of young people in the short term, and ignored the necessity of putting down some firm recovery foundations for the long term. By every measure, this is a low-cost option when what pupils deserved was something first class.”
“Schools have gone to incredible lengths in order to protect and care for pupils in the most unimaginably challenging of times. There is no doubt that this vital work helped to shield large numbers of children from the worst effects of the pandemic. What they need now, and certainly before the spending review, which is months away, is adequate financial backing from the government to build on this work. The government is failing to provide that.”
Last month NAHT published ‘A blueprint for a stronger and fairer system for all’ which sets out seven recommendations for the government to include in its own recovery plans. Sadly, the government has chosen to ignore the best advice of the teaching profession and opt for something which risks harming the life chances of pupils at a critical time.
NAHT’s recovery ‘blueprint’ features seven recommendations for the government:
- Prioritise the early years
- Improve support for mental health and wellbeing
- Invest in the teaching profession
- Provide targeted academic support for pupils who need it
- Expand extra-curricular provision and invest in extra-curricular providers
- Invest in school technology
- Remove unnecessary burdens and distractions.
Carole Willis, chief executive of the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) said:
“The events of last week came as a surprise and disappointment to the whole education sector, particularly as the Prime Minister was reported to have viewed education as a central plank of the country’s recovery plans.
“NFER’s research has documented the enormous challenges of the last 18 months. Many children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, did not have the technology, quiet places to study, or parents who were confident to support them to make as much progress as usual.
“Research by NFER and others suggests that children have fallen behind by between two and three months in reading and maths – and more for those eligible for free school meals.
It is a huge credit to schools, parents and children that this is significantly less than the period of school closures.
“There is a rich evidence base on how best to tackle these challenges – to which NFER is adding on an on-going basis. This will have formed the basis for Sir Kevan Collins’ proposals which are likely to have reflected the importance of quality teaching, enabled by a properly resourced and supported teaching workforce, and to recognise the need for cross-sector partnership to address other influences on children’s progression.
“Significant investment over multiple years is required to enable children to recover – both in academic terms and in terms of their wellbeing and mental health. Funding should be sufficient to support the expansion of a teaching workforce which has been pushed to the limit in recent months.
“Our research has highlighted that teachers’ working hours in term time are still significantly higher than other professionals. Successful recovery strategies need to include provision for increased teaching capacity, as well as exploring how greater cross-sector partnership working can better distribute the range of tasks required to enable children to recover.
“Long run estimates of the failure to address the effects of missed learning run into the hundreds of billions of pounds. The OECD estimates the impacts of the first lockdown alone to cost the economy £1.5 trillion in lost GDP over the coming decades.
“While the newly announced package of £1.4bn will help some children – the current evidence on the potential impact of small group tutoring is strong - we ask the government to look again at the funds available to support education recovery over the next few years. This is a vital foundation towards creating skilled and confident citizens and employees who can play a crucial role in the country’s future success.”
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said
"I am sorry to say that it is profoundly disappointing. Its lack of vision and ambition lets down our young people.
"Our children’s futures, and the future of our country, depended on the Government getting the education recovery right. But the Secretary of State, indeed the whole of government, have failed to rise to the challenge. Failed the school leaders, teachers and staff who, last March, adapted overnight to delivering remote lessons while hand-delivering workbooks and food parcels to families. I pay enormous tribute to the staff who did so much to support our children, and continue to do so. Failed the parents who have thrown themselves into the task of home schooling and supporting their children’s learning.
"Most importantly, the Government have failed children and young people. They were promised that their education was the Prime Minister’s number one priority. But they have been betrayed, by a secretary of state who has let them down once again, and by a Prime Minister who won’t lift a finger for them when it comes to a row with the Chancellor about prioritising the investment needed in their future. And this comes after a decade when successive Conservative governments have delivered the largest cut to school budgets in 40 years.
"I am frankly ashamed to hear the Secretary of State proclaim that the funding announced last week will deliver a ‘revolution’. When what his government announced will amount to just £50 per pupil for the next three years, compared to £1,600 in the USA, £2,500 in the Netherlands. When it will deliver less than one hour of tutoring a fortnight for children who have missed more than half a year of being in school, in person.
"Getting tutoring right is important when schools have said the NTP is too difficult and too inflexible to use, and when it has so far reached less than 2% of pupils. But taking this programme out of the hands of experts and giving it to Randstad, a multinational outsourcing company, isn’t the right answer to schools’ concerns about reach and quality.
"They fear the contract is being handed out on the cheap. Can the Secretary of State confirm reports that the contract value is worth £37 million less than originally offered? Will he confirm that this has been done to cut costs, to the detriment of our children? And while tutoring and investment in teacher development featured -albeit inadequately – in last week’s announcement, what is really notable is how much is missing.
"Where is the bold action needed to boost children’s wellbeing and social development which parents and teachers say is their top priority, and which is essential to support learning? Where is the increased expert support to tackle the rise in mental health conditions among young people? Where is the targeted investment for those children who missed most time out of class, who have struggled most to learn from home, and who were left for months without access to remote learning? Where is the funding needed for the pupil premium, to replace the stealth cut to school budgets the Government imposed when it changed the date of the census? And where is the investment in early years provision for very young children who teachers say have not developed the language and vocabulary that is the foundation stone for future learning?
"The Secretary of State says this is just one step on the road but when the Government’s own catchup ‘tsar’ Sir Kevan Collins, a highly respected education expert, says action is needed now to protect children’s futures, why is he content to wait?
"Last week’s announcement fell so far short of what Sir Kevan had recommended that he resigned on Wednesday evening, ashamed to have his name connected to such pitiful proposals. He said the government’s response was too small, too narrow and too slow. He was appalled at the lack of ambition and vision. A lack of ambition that betrays the optimism and aspirations children and young people themselves have for their future.
"Last week, I was proud to publish Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan, a plan which would deliver the investment Sir Kevan has said is essential, and which recognises that young people are excited to be back with their friends and teachers, hungry to learn and prove their potential.
"Our responsibility as adults is to match the ambition children have for their own futures. That’s why Labour’s bold plan proposes new opportunities for every child to play, learn and develop. Because when Labour says, when the Leader of the Opposition says, as he did last week, that education is our top priority, that we want this to be the best country in the world to grow up in – unlike the Government, when we say that, we mean it."
Labour launches bid to force U-turn on government’s inadequate education recovery plan
Opposition Day Debate: @UKLabour has announced that it will force a vote on the government’s Covid catch-up plan in Parliament this week
5th June 2021: The party is seeking to force a U-turn on the education recovery plan which has been roundly criticised as insufficient, including by Tory MPs and the government’s own catch up Commissioner - Sir Kevan Collins, who resigned after calling the government’s proposals insufficient.
The vote will call on Parliament to adopt Labour’s £15bn Children’s Recovery Plan which matches the scale of the challenge, reflecting children’s excitement and ambition for their futures.
Sir Kevan Collins said that the support announced:
“does not come close”, to meet the scale of the challenge in supporting every child to recover from the pandemic.
Writing on Friday, Robert Halfon, Chair of the Education Select Committee called the government’s plans ‘piecemeal’ and Tory MP Anne-Marie Morris questioned whether ‘the Treasury understands the real world’.
Last week (2 Jun), Labour announced its £14.7 billion education recovery plan, which includes breakfast clubs for every child, quality mental health support in all schools and small group tutoring for all who need it.
A leaked presentation from Sir Kevan revealed the impact of the Conservatives’ failure to support children’s learning throughout the pandemic, including:
- 90,000 pupils are behind on basic literacy and are unable to read or write when starting secondary school;
- Children are estimated to have lost 2-4 months of learning, with pupils expected to leave school with worse GCSEs, and Northern pupils are around an additional month behind their peers;
- The youngest children are behind on basic literacy and social development;
- Children from poorer households, who have often struggled most to learn from home, have lost most learning with the attainment gap expected to widen by 10-24%;
- The economic impact is estimated to be a minimum of £100 billion with a potential loss to the economy and country of £420 billion.
The Conservatives’ failure to manage the impacts of Covid has meant children have had more time out of schools and universities in Britain than anywhere else in Europe.
School absences across the autumn term were between 10 – 30% compared to less than 5% in 2019.
The Collins report calls for an investment of £15 billion - £700 per pupil – over three years to support children’s recovery.
Yet, in the latest example of the Conservatives neglect, they have announced only a tenth of what is needed.
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“The Conservatives have treated children as an afterthought throughout the pandemic and are now neglecting them in our recovery.
“Ministers’ failure to get testing and Covid mitigations in place in schools kept children out of their classrooms over the last year, missing out on learning and time with friends.
“Kevan Collins’ resignation makes it clear that the Government’s education recovery plan is totally insufficient to help every child bounce back from these impacts of the pandemic.
“Labour has set out a bold plan to invest in our children’s futures, compensating for the Conservatives’ failures over the last year, to ensure all children can play, learn and develop after the pandemic. Conservative MPs will now have the chance to step-up and vote for our children’s futures.”
Labour will use an Opposition Day Debate on Wednesday 9 June to force a vote on its Children’s Recovery Plan.
Pupil absences across the autumn term 2020 were 10 – 30% according to the Collins’ report, this compares to less than 5% in 2019:
Labour seizes post-covid education agenda with bold proposals for children to ‘play, learn and develop’
2 Jun 2021: On Wednesday (2 Jun) Labour published an extensive new education plan for the immediate post-Covid period, fuelled by widely held understanding that children make academic progress when they are happy and well-supported.
Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan proposes a dynamic shift of focus across education settings in the wake of the pandemic, presenting a programme for all children to ‘play, learn and develop’ as the post-covid catch up continues.
At the heart of the new plans is a focus on ensuring children’s education results in happy, confident, ambitious young people, well prepared for the world of work, no matter where they come from or what type of school they go to.
Harnessing children’s excitement at being back in school, the Children’s Recovery Plan builds on the incredible work of teachers, school leaders, teaching assistants, support staff during the pandemic, by giving all schools the right 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 attainment gaps between the poorest and most privileged children.
The Party has been vocal in its criticism of the Government’s failings on education, both before and during the pandemic, calling out the Education Secretary on his failures from feeding children in the holidays to creating an exams fiasco last summer.
This paper reflects the depth of Labour’s relationships and work with schools, parents and children.
Conservatives are "showing no ambition for our children’s futures"
Labour’s announcement comes with a warning from Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, that the Conservatives are “showing no ambition for our children’s futures”, after reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will only spend £ £1.5bn on children’s recovery, 10 times less their ‘Catch-up Czar’ Kevan Collins has told Minister is needed.
A leaked report from Sir Kevan Collins, has emphasised the importance of acting now, with British children having had more time out of school than anywhere else in Europe and 200,000 more children experiencing probable mental health conditions.
The Shadow Education Secretary said Labour’s £15bn plan – in line with Kevan Collin’s own proposals and informed by the Bright Future Taskforce of education experts – delivers the bold action that teachers, parents, children, education experts and employers have said is needed.
This one-off investment is dwarfed by the estimated cost to the economy and the taxpayer of not supporting children’s recovery, which the Education Policy Institute has said could be up to £420bn – almost 30 times more than the cost of Labour’s package.
The Government’s reported plan for extended lessons is unpopular among parents and education experts, who warn of limited additional benefits from the extra time, with no specific plans to boost wellbeing or social development, despite parents saying this is their top priority.
Pupils have missed an average of 95 days of in-person school which combined 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. This gap had already stopped closing even before the pandemic as a decade of Conservative governments cut school budgets, oversaw soaring class sizes and delivered an increase in child poverty.
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“Children are excited to be back in the classroom with their friends and hungry to learn. After such disruption, we owe it to them to match their energy and motivation, with the support and resources they need to thrive, not just whilst they catch-up, but for their school careers and beyond.
“Our plans deliver this, by funding activities to combine learning and play while investing in our teachers and staff, Labour will ensure that children not only recover, but are supported to push on. In contrast, the Conservatives are showing no ambition for children’s futures.
“Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people.”
“We must match the ambition children have for their own futures and put them at the heart of our national recovery. This is an investment that our children’s futures and the future of our country depends on.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said:
“We need all parties to be more ambitious for education. But, crucially, that ambition must be matched with the funding, resources and support necessary to succeed. Any ‘big ideas’ for recovery must take into account the impact on schools and children.
“We agree with Labour that children’s happiness and wellbeing should be prioritised as well as their education, and that ‘play’ and ‘develop’ are as important as ‘learn’. It is important to be mindful of the trade-offs and unintended consequences of any recovery idea being proposed. For example, the marginal gains that might be possible through extending the school day must be weighed against the costs of such a strategy, including the impact on pupils’ mental health, reduced family time and less time for extra-curricular activities.
“Schools have gone to incredible lengths in order to protect and care for pupils since March 2020. There is no doubt that this vital work helped to shield large numbers of children from the worst effects of the pandemic. It is essential that any recovery plan builds on this work rather than bolting-on headline grabbing measures.
“Labour is right to point out that ‘recovery’ will carry on for several years yet. The work should leave the system stronger and fairer than before, as NAHT's Recovery Blueprint recommends. This work cannot be done on the cheap. The question about how much should be spent on recovery is best answered with ‘whatever it costs’, such is the importance of investing in the future wellbeing of our young people and the future prosperity of our nation.
“However, any proposals need to properly take account of the additional demands that they will place on school staff. Removing unnecessary and counterproductive bureaucracy is essential to create capacity. Whatever additional measures are eventually decided upon, almost without exception this will require school leaders to administer and orchestrate them. The additional workload this will create will need to be recognised and addressed. Removing unnecessary burdens from leaders’ working lives is one way around this. NAHT’s Blueprint recommends, for example, that routine Ofsted inspections remain suspended, and policy-makers should find an alternative and more useful role for Ofsted during the next academic year.”
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This is good thinking from the Labour Party. Their education recovery plan meets the needs of the nation’s children and young people now and is ambitious for the future. Breakfast clubs, expanded extra-curricular activities and greater opportunities for children to play and socialise will develop their interpersonal skills. Labour is right to recognise that children need to recover through play and through greatly improved mental-health support. Research has shown that high-quality individual and small-group tutoring is also highly effective in enabling children to make up for lost learning.
“Labour is also right to focus on teachers - of whom so much has been asked, and given, during the pandemic. Teachers do not get the professional development that they want and need - and this plan would begin to redress this imbalance, and perhaps persuade more to stay.
“Labour’s plan is properly funded and would enable these laudable ambitions to become a reality. We await news of the Treasury’s funding to see how serious the government is about education recovery for the nation’s children.”