U.K. Unveils Plans for Post-Pandemic ‘Tutoring Revolution’

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Boris Johnson’s government has unveiled plans for a big expansion in tutoring to help millions of children in England catch up after their schools were closed during the pandemic.

One billion pounds ($1.4 billion) has been earmarked for a “national tutoring revolution” that will support up to 6 million, 15-hour tutoring courses for the most disadvantaged pupils and more tuition for 16-19 year-olds in key subjects, the Department for Education said.

Another 400 million pounds will be spent on training for teachers and early years staff, including to better support the very youngest children’s development. But critics said it didn’t go far enough, and even the government’s own education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins warned that more was needed to help young people catch up on lost learning.

Shutdown

Schools in England reopened in March after being closed for two months during the third national lockdown. Virus restrictions meant most pupils only had one full term of lessons in the classroom since coronavirus hit the U.K. early last year.

The latest tranche of funding, announced Wednesday, follows a separate pledge to help schools provide more clubs and activities over the summer holidays, and a promised boost in mental health support.

“Young people have sacrificed so much over the last year and as we build back from the pandemic, we must make sure that no child is left behind,” Johnson said in an emailed statement.

But Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT teaching union, said: “The funding announced to back these plans is paltry compared to the amounts other countries have invested, or even compared to government spending on business recovery measures during the pandemic. Education recovery cannot be done on the cheap.”

Collins said he welcomed the investments in tutoring and teaching quality but, in a statement released by government, added: “More will be needed to meet the scale of the challenge.”

The next stage of the “education recovery plan” will include a review of time spent in school and college, which will report later this year. The Times newspaper reported Tuesday that the school day could be extended by half an hour from 2022, under plans being drawn up by Collins.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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