U.K. Sets $988 Million Make-Up Plan for Children’s Lost Learning
A desktop screen is installed in a classroom at All Saints Catholic College ahead of reopening in Manchester, U.K. (Photographer: Anthony Devlin/Bloomberg)

U.K. Sets $988 Million Make-Up Plan for Children’s Lost Learning

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The U.K. government unveiled a 700 million-pound ($988 million) plan to help young people in England catch up on lost learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding will focus on expanding tutoring programs, both one-to-one and in small groups, and help schools to provide more clubs and activities over summer.

All schools in England are set to reopen March 8, after being closed for two months during the third national lockdown. Virus restrictions have meant pupils have only had one full term of lessons in the classroom since the pandemic hit the U.K. early last year.

The new package, announced by the government Wednesday, includes plans to support language development among disadvantaged infants, and the creation of “face-to-face summer schools” in secondaries particularly targeted at 11- and 12-year-olds.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an emailed statement that when schools reopen, “our next priority will be ensuring no child is left behind as a result of the learning they have lost over the past year.”

Pupils will face some big changes when they go back to school; secondary school pupils will have three Covid-19 tests at school before being asked to regularly test themselves at home. Face masks will also be required in the classroom, as well as corridors, for the first time.

Teaching unions raised concerns that reopening all schools at the same time would cause infection rates to spiral. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union, warned in a statement: “A ‘big bang’ school reopening brings 10 million people back into crowded buildings with no social distancing and inadequate ventilation.”

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have taken a more cautious approach to schools reopening, opting for a phased return with the youngest pupils going back first.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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