Education leaders say Government Covid response is 'inadequate'

Children arrive at school

Education leaders in Suffolk believe the Government's plans could have gone further - Credit: PA

Education leaders in Suffolk have raised concerns about the amount of money being offered by the Government to help pupils catch up after the Covid pandemic.  

On Wednesday the Department for Education announced that £1.4billion of funding would be made available to offer pupils up to 100 million hours of tuition. 

But the £1.4bn – made available on top of £1.7bn already pledged – has come under fire as being insufficient to deal with the problems caused by the pandemic.  

Graham White is from the Suffolk branch of the National Education Union

Graham White said more should have been done sooner to support pupils - Credit: Graham White

Graham White, The National Education Union (NEU) representative for Suffolk, described the amount of money on offer as "absolutely inadequate".  

"There should not be an expectation for teachers to provide extra hours and there should not be an expectation for pupils to stay for two or three hours," said Mr White.  

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"We need more money in schools for small group teaching and one to one's." 

Mr White said this was the best way to help pupils that had fallen behind but said had more been done to help disadvantaged pupils from the start, particularly with technology access, things would be better now.  

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"Had they done that we perhaps would not be in such a state now," said Mr White.  

Craig D'Cunha, executive headteacher of Chantry Academy in Ipswich

Craig D'Cunha, executive headteacher of Chantry Academy in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Craig D’Cunha, executive principal of Chantry Academy, part of the Active Learning Trust, said: “While there are areas within the programme that could have gone further to aid the national education recovery, there are elements to welcome and would supplement the progress we are making as a school. 

“It is pleasing to see that sports and the arts are suggested activities to enrich the student’s opportunities. These are areas we have long given additional backing to at the school as we know they really support students all round education. 

“Another area we have focused on to support the return to the classroom environment is the pastoral system. We have appointed a mental health support worker to provide students with the expert guidance they may need to ease any anxieties and concerns they have about the return to school life.  

"We would welcome any additional money to contribute to these vitally important activities.” 

Jerry Glazier, secretary for the Essex branch of the NEU said greater transparency was needed, Pictu

Jerry Glazier, secretary for the Essex branch of the NEU said the amount on offer was poultry

Jerry Glazier, Essex NEU branch secretary, said that the amount of money on offer was "paltry".  

"It's completely inadequate," said Mr Glazier.  

"We have always been committed to a recovery curriculum. 

"The Government seems to be focused on teacher training and tutoring. We don't think that's the right focus." 

Mr Glazier said it was important that recovery included support for classes like music and sport. 

"The Government also needs to give resources for mental health," he said.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that there would be more funding to come. 

"Of course there will be more funding down the track," said Mr Johnson.

"This is a huge amount that we are spending on top of the £14bn that we spent as soon as we came in."

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