Summer schools for secondary pupils as part of £700m catch-up plan in England

24 February 2021, 05:39 | Updated: 24 February 2021, 17:55

By Megan White

Secondary schools will be asked to deliver summer schools as part of the Government's multimillion-pound catch-up programme for children in England who have faced disruption due to Covid-19.

Boris Johnson has announced an extra £400 million of funding - on top of the £300 million pledged in January - to help pupils make up lost learning time following months of school closures.

As part of the recovery package, summer provision will be introduced for pupils who need it the most, such as incoming Year 7 pupils, whilst one-to-one and small group tutoring schemes will be expanded.

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The programme includes a one-off £302 million "Recovery Premium" for primary and secondary schools to support disadvantaged pupils - which could include running additional clubs and activities in the summer, or opting for evidence-based approaches to help children from September.

A further £200 million will be available to secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer schools.

On Wednesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "This is building on the extra £1 billion we gave to schools just over six months ago.

"It's part of the National Tutoring Programme, a big expansion of that, which really targets small group tutoring for pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

"There's also £200 million to help secondary schools who want to run summer programmes for their children to give them a boost in terms of their education, targeting the children who would benefit from that extra help, in terms of academic support but also some additional activities which are good for mental health and physical health.

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"On top of that, over £300 million going out to secondary schools and primary schools, that works out at £22,000 for a secondary school or £6,000 for a primary school.

"There's a whole set of different actions to help schools add extra flexibility to bring extra tuition to their children."

It comes after the Government considered a variety of options as part of the catch-up plans for pupils who have missed out - including extended school days and shorter summer holidays.

But both of these proposals, which had been previously described as "policy gimmicks" by the school leaders' union, are not included in the details set out on Wednesday.

As part of the package, £200 million will fund an expansion of existing tuition programmes for students - including the National Tutoring Programme (NPP) - as well as funding additional language support for pre-school children.

Mr Johnson said: "When schools re-open and face to face education resumes on March 8, our next priority will be ensuring no child is left behind as a result of the learning they have lost over the past year.

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"This extensive programme of catch-up funding will equip teachers with the tools and resources they need to support their pupils, and give children the opportunities they deserve to learn and fulfil their potential."

It comes after the Prime Minister appointed Sir Kevan Collins as the education recovery commissioner earlier this month to oversee the Government's catch-up programme for pupils.

Sir Kevan will develop longer term plans for how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact of Covid-19 on learning after engaging with schools, colleges, charities and parents.

In June last year, Boris Johnson announced a £1 billion catch-up fund to help pupils in England.

The package included £350 million for the National Tutoring Programme (NPP) to help the most disadvantaged pupils, and £650 million for schools to help children from all backgrounds catch up.

Sir Kevan said: "We know that ensuring all children and young people can make up for lost learning will be a longer-term challenge, and the range of measures announced today are an important next step.

"But this is just the beginning and I'll be engaging with the sector, educational charities as well as families, to ensure this support is delivered in a way that works for both young people and the sector and to understand what more is needed to help recover students' lost learning over the course of this parliament.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said: "Summers schools will be of value for some pupils but it will be important not to overwhelm students. Recovery cannot happen in a single summer."

He added: "Fortunately, there already exists a wealth of knowledge within the profession about how to narrow achievement gaps. We need to trust schools to put in place a long-term approach based on what they know about the needs of their pupils."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was "frustrating" that the £700 million package had been "salami-sliced to such an extent that it may reduce its effectiveness".

He said: "Our view is that the total sum of the money should go directly to schools, colleges, and early years providers, rather than being diverted into other pots or ring-fenced.

"By allocating a large sum of money to the National Tutoring Programme and apparently earmarking another large sum of money specifically for summer schools, there is less available to schools and colleges to use for catch-up support in general."

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, called the package of measures "a promising start", but he added there were "no quick fixes" as he called for a consistent multi-year recovery plan.

He said: "The strongest evidence for accelerating learning is for increasing time for high-quality teaching. Targeted summer schools are one way to achieve this, and it's good that schools will have flexibility to decide what will work best for them and their staff.

"However, it's important to recognise the problem of teacher burnout that could be exacerbated by additional workload."

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “This is not adequate and will not make up for the learning and time with friends that children have lost.

“There is no specific mention of supporting children’s mental health or wellbeing, which is fundamental to enabling their recovery from this pandemic.

“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak spent more on the failed Eat Out to Help Out Scheme than they will on our children’s recovery. This package amounts to just 43p per day for each child.”