Children’s Education Recovery and Childcare Costs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:37 pm on 7th June 2022.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education) 4:37 pm, 7th June 2022

The hon. Lady makes a fair point. We do want to see better take-up of the offers coming in, and the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend Will Quince, has been working hard on that. Perhaps he will say a bit more about it in his closing remarks, but I recognise the issue. Of course, we also provide a lot of direct funding to the disadvantaged through the two-year-old offer, as I think the hon. Lady will recognise.

We know that the covid pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the education of our nation’s children and young people. Evidence shows that that has been significant for all people, in particular the disadvantaged, reversing the years of progress we had seen in closing the attainment gap. The gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers had narrowed, both at primary and secondary levels, between 2011 and 2019, following the introduction of the pupil premium. Despite the impact of covid-19, the latest pupil progress data published at the end of March 2022 shows that we are now seeing good progress for many pupils, but we know that certain groups and age groups need more help.

Since 2021, the additional gaps in attainment created by the pandemic appear to have reduced in primary maths and secondary reading. Evidence shows that, on average, primary pupils recovered around two thirds of progress lost due to the pandemic in reading and around half the progress lost in maths. To mitigate the impact on secondary pupils in key stage 3, we committed to doubling the rate of the recovery premium for secondary schools for the next two academic years from 2022-23. That will help schools to deliver evidence-based approaches to support the most disadvantaged pupils, from small group support in reading and maths to summer schools.

We know that literacy is fundamental to children’s education. As mentioned in the schools White Paper, since 2010 the Government have placed the effective teaching of phonics at the heart of the curriculum, introducing the annual phonics screening check in 2012 for pupils at the end of year 1 and incorporating phonics into teacher standards.