Education recovery minister resigns over funding row
Education Recovery Minister, Sir Kevan Collins, has walked away from his position after a row over the amount of funding being set aside by the Government to help schools catch up following pandemic closures.
In his resignation letter to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Sir Kevan was critical of the £1.4billion funding pot, saying that he did not believe it was “credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size”.
Collins had reportedly called for funding of around £15 billion, which would have supported a number of initiatives including an extension to the school day.
In a statement, Collins confirmed he had recommended that schools be funded to extend school time “for a fixed, three-year period and providing significant funding for a flexible extension to school time, equivalent to 30 minutes extra every day”.
He warned that the amount set aside “falls far short of what is needed. It is too narrow, too small and will be delivered too slowly” and claimed that “not enough is being done” to help vulnerable pupils, those in the early years or 16 to 19-year-olds.
In his resignation letter, he said: “Above all, I am concerned that the package betrays an undervaluation of the importance of education, for individuals and as a driver of a more prosperous and health society.
“I am concerned that the apparent savings offered by an incremental approach to recovery represent a false economy, as learning losses that are not addressed quickly are likely to compound”.
He told the Prime Minister: “I hope that you are able to allocate the additional resources that are likely to be needed for a successful recovery through the spending review. I believe the settlement provided will define the international standing of England’s education system for years to come.”
Sir Kevan’s resignation over schools underfunding, comes as the Department for Education has admitted that repairing all defects in schools across England will cost around £11.4billion – twice the previous estimate.
The Government’s last spending review allocated just £1.8 billion to “maintain and improve” school buildings during 2021.
Despite the criticisms over underfunding, the Government has pointed to two recent initiatives which will see £10million being set aside to ‘level up’ underperforming schools.
The money is being earmarked to support teaching in areas where a lower proportion of pupils go to schools rated less than “good” by Ofsted.
In a separate announcement, £18 million will be provided to continue the Opportunity Areas programme for a fifth year, with plans underway to twin programme participants with other areas to share the impact of their work. Contact Haslers Education Team for advice.