ASCL responds to one billion pound catch-up plan

19/06/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the government’s announcement of a one billion pound Covid catch-up plan for children.
 
Responding to the government’s announcement of a one billion pound Covid catch-up plan for children, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

We welcome this vital and significant investment in helping children to catch-up with lost learning as a result of the coronavirus emergency. It will help to support the work that schools are already undertaking in drawing up catch-up plans.

On the £350 million National Tutoring Programme, there is good evidence that one-to-one and small group tuition can benefit learners. Our concerns are over ensuring that this is high-quality provision and how schools can access this programme to complement their own support programmes.

There are clearly going to be questions about the planned model for the National Tutoring Programme. Could the £350 million of funding be better used by simply providing it to schools to fund catch-up programmes, rather than subsidising tutoring organisations? 

And if schools are expected to pay towards the cost of the tutors how does this square with the fact that school funding has been very uneven for many years and some institutions will have far less capacity to afford these costs? 

There is certainly a great deal of merit in one-to-one and small group tuition and we are not dismissing the idea, but it is right that we ask these questions.

On the £650 million funding to be shared across state primary and secondary schools, we are confused by the assertion that headteachers will decide how the money is spent, when this is immediately followed by an expectation that it should be used on small group tuition.

We are also concerned to see that there is now apparently no funding for early years or 16-19 provision, when these sectors are absolutely vital to the future of children and young people.

It remains frustrating that we haven’t had the opportunity to discuss any of this with the government ahead of this announcement and that we once again find ourselves having to piece together the detail. We really do need a much more collaborative approach so that the government and profession can together work on developing a really effective, joined-up national plan.”