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News2nd September 2021

School leaders unite behind new Covid recovery funding plan

Ark’s Chief Executive has joined a range of education leaders to propose a plan to support schools’ recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lucy Heller is joined by Geoff Barton of ASCL, David Hughes of AOC, Leora Cruddas of the CST, Paul Tarn of Delta, Martyn Oliver of Outwood Grange, Sir Hamid Patel of Star Academies and Sir John Coles of ULT to ask for an additional £5.8bn over the next three years.

The co-signatories write, “We know that public finances are squeezed but choosing not to invest in the future of young people, at this crucial moment, will only lead to greater costs down the line.”

The proposal, which, along with the letter, you can read here, argues that funding should be targeted into a range of key areas.

The areas highlighted for investment are the early years sector with a focus on disadvantaged two-year-olds; a new temporary “catch-up premium” for the most disadvantaged in schools; a post-16 premium to help those with the least time left in school; mental health support teams; additional support for those who left school during the pandemic; and investment in a task force to reduce non-attendance.

The co-signatories say there is “a very significant gap between rich and poor and North vs South” and add:

“While it is likely that wealthier pupils will catch up without much additional support, we do not believe the same can be said for their more disadvantaged peers. Nor is this limited to academic impact. We are seeing a crisis in the children’s mental health system that was already struggling before the pandemic. Bluntly, many students will not fully recover from the effects of the pandemic without considerable support.”