The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has described the Government’s education recovery plan as a ‘pitiful offer which badly lets down children in Tower Hamlets.’
Earlier this month the Government announced a funding package to boost education recovery after the impact of school closures during the pandemic, however detailed research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has found that the recovery package of £1.4bn only 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.
The new figures come after the resignation of the Government’s Education Recovery Commissioner Sir Kevan Collins, who has 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. A leaked report from Sir Kevan estimates that children across England have lost 2-4 months of learning.
The very limited offer also comes following year-upon-year of cuts to school funding. School spending per pupil in England fell by 9% in real terms between 2009–10 and 2019–20 (source: Institute for Fiscal Studies), representing the largest cut in over 40 years. Across both constituencies in Tower Hamlets, school funding per pupil has fallen by around 12% between 2013/14 and 2019/20.
The National Education Union (NEU) points out that this measly £50 per pupil per year means the average primary school will receive the equivalent of just £22 per pupil per year.
Even after factoring in education recovery funding prior to the Government’s announcement, the EPI found that the total level of funding committed for England over four 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.
The NEU has launched a petition calling on the Government to provide the funds schools need to best help children recover from this pandemic.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on our children and young people. Our schools and education staff have done an amazing job to keep learning going in difficult circumstances, but lockdowns and time out of school has had a big impact on education.
“Our children and young people deserve real support to help them recover and catch up, but instead the Government has announced a pitiful offer which badly lets down children in Tower Hamlets.
“I support the NEU’s ‘Fund Their Futures’ campaign and urge the Government to give our schools the cash they need to help our pupils catch up.”
Cllr Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth Services and Education, said: “It’s really disappointing that the Government are failing to deliver the investment needed to help education recovery.
“After such disruption to their education, we owe it to our children and young people to give them the support and resources they need to catch up and thrive, and I hope the Government will listen to the campaign and put in the resources we need.”
Alex Kenny, NEU District Secretary, said: “The government had an opportunity to back up their fine words with the money necessary to meet the needs of the children in our schools. Kevan Collins was a good appointment to oversee the education recovery plan and for his report to be treated with such contempt speaks volumes about this government’s priorities. Time and time again they have failed our children since the Covid outbreak, and this is yet another example. Perhaps we should no longer be surprised.”