Britain risks failing hundreds of thousands of young people with its”half-hearted” attempt to bolster schools after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this former schooling recovery leader who resigned within the government’s funding statement.
Kevan Collins criticized that the 1.4 billion pound ($2 billion) schooling recovery fund that was announced Wednesday, describing it as a fraction of what is needed to meet the scale of this challenge.
“The package of service announced yesterday falls far short of what’s required,” Collins wrote Thursday in the Times of London. “It is too narrow, too little and will be sent too slowly”
Children across the U.K. dropped an average of 115 days of classroom time throughout the pandemic, curtailing academic achievement and social development. Collins reportedly suggested that the government plow an extra 15 billion pounds into education during the next 3 years to help pupils catch up.
With the financing announced this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has pledged about 3.1 billion pounds into the schooling recovery effort, or about 400 lbs ($566) each student. That is compared to the U.S., that has spent the equivalent of 1,600 pounds ($2,265) per student, or the Netherlands, which has announced plans to invest over 2,500 pounds ($3,540) each pupil.
“A half-hearted strategy risks failing thousands and thousands of students,” Collins wrote. “The support announced by government so far does not come close to fulfilling the scale of the challenge and is why I don’t have any option but to resign.”
Central to Collins’ strategy is a proposal to extend each college day an average of 30 minutes so kids can get the extra academic help they need without sacrificing enrichment programs like sports and music.
The government said it is still reviewing proposals to expand the school day and a determination will be made as part of the annual funding review. The spending announced this week includes 1 billion pounds to fund tutoring for disadvantaged pupils and 400 million pounds for teacher instruction.
The consequences of the debate are profound amid estimates that lost learning could cost kids more than 100 billion lbs in lifetime earnings.
The impact is very likely to be greatest on kids from low-income and cultural minority households.
Even before the pandemic, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were about 18 months behind their classmates by the end of secondary school. That gap will have widened over the last year, according to a report by the Education Policy Institute, which promotes equal access to education.
“In normal times, schools have a critical role to play in fighting inherent inequalities in society,” explained Luke Sibieta, among the report’s writers. “And once we stop kids being able to attend school generally, we kind of lose a few of the advantage that schools play”