Covid-19: Education Outcomes

Education – in the House of Commons on 1st March 2021.

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Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Labour, Birmingham, Ladywood

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on education outcomes.

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education

As the Minister for School Standards set out, we have commissioned a study to assess the progress of pupils this academic year, initial findings from which were published last week. That study has informed the development of our £1.7 billion investment to give education settings support to boost our children’s education.

Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Education)

Those listening to the Secretary of State’s answers in this session so far will fear previous failures being repeated. He talks about a targeted approach, but in the next breath says it is up to teachers to decide where those budgets are targeted.

Once again, we have got the Secretary of State showing a complete lack of leadership, which leads to funds being unspent and his initiatives failing. We have seen it on exams, we have seen it on testing, we have seen it on school returns, we have seen it on university student wellbeing, and we have seen it on BTECs. We need a Secretary of State capable of providing the clarity, the leadership and the ambition required to support a generation of schoolchildren. If he cannot, will he please step aside and let us get a Secretary of State who can?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education

That was a very well read question by the hon. Member. What we are doing is a combination of things, because we on this side of the House understand that teachers will have an acute understanding of those children who have suffered most as a result of being out of the classroom. We have understood that children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are most helped by small group tuition. We have created the national tutoring programme—a specifically targeted programme—and all the evidence points to the simple fact that by taking this approach, we have the biggest impact in terms of helping children catch up with lost learning.

The hon. Gentleman probably has little interest or regard for facts or evidence, and that is probably evidenced by the fact that that is how the Labour party came up with its last manifesto. But we do care about evidence. Actually, the evidence shows that by having these targeted interventions, yet giving support to teachers to be able to help children who need it most, we will be able to help the maximum number of children.