Education Recovery - Statement

– in the House of Lords at 6:46 pm on 8th June 2021.

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The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Monday 7 June.

“With permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will make a Statement regarding the latest phase of our education recovery programme.

Helping our children recover from the impact of the pandemic is an absolute priority. Pupils, parents and staff have all experienced disruption, and we know that continuous actions are required to help recover lost learning. That is why we have already made provision available to support children to catch up. As a result, a quarter of a million children will receive tutoring this year who would not have been able to access it beforehand; over half a million pupils will be able to attend summer schools; and schools have access to both a catch-up and a recovery premium to enable them to assess what will help their pupils catch up on lost learning and to make provision available to ensure that they do so.

The evidence we have shows that disadvantaged children and those who live in areas that have been particularly hard hit by high Covid rates, such as the north-east of England and Yorkshire, are among those whose learning is most likely to have been affected. We have always been clear that we will continue to take the action that is required. That is why we continue to pledge significant packages of investment and targeted intervention to help them to make up on their lost learning. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sir Kevan Collins for his contribution to these efforts, his thoughts and his inputs over the past few months.

Last week, I announced the details of the next step in our efforts to ensure that children and young people catch up after the disruption of the pandemic and to support our ongoing education recovery plans. We have announced an additional programme of extra help and support, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which focuses on areas that we already know are going to be most effective. They are high-quality tutoring and more effort, more work and more programmes to support great teaching. This brings our total recovery package to more than £3 billion. The lion’s share of this new money—£1 billion of it—will fund a tutoring revolution, delivering 6 million 15-hour tutoring courses for schoolchildren and the equivalent of 2 million 15-hour courses for 16 to 19 year-olds who need additional support to catch up. Year 13 pupils will also have the option to repeat their final year where this is appropriate.

The evidence shows that one course of high-quality tutoring has been proven to boost attainment by three to five months, so additional tutoring will be vital for young people in recovering the teaching hours lost in the past year. This represents a huge additional teaching resource, putting it among the best tutoring schemes in the world. It means that tutoring will no longer be the preserve of the most affluent but will instead go to those who need it most and who can get the most benefit from it. Schools will be able to provide additional tutoring support using locally employed tutors, and that will build on the successful national tutoring programme, which is on target to provide a quarter of a million children with tutoring in its first year.

I can also tell the House that it is not just data that shows us that tutoring works; we are seeing the positive impact on children at first hand. As we go around the country, speaking to children in different schools, we hear how it is helping them to learn, to catch up and to achieve the very best of themselves. We hear time and again how these activities are helping young people to make up for the time they lost through not being in school. It is also giving them the increased confidence and self-esteem that they develop through the extra tutoring and the extra attention.

I have said that we are determined to fund these catch-up activities based on the evidence of what works, and the next stage of our recovery plan will include a review of time spent in school and college and the impact that that could have on helping children and young people to catch up. Schools already have the power to set the length of the school day, but there is a certain amount of disparity in approach across the sector. I know it is not just the Government who are thinking about the length of the school day; it is an important issue with so much catching up still to do. When that is the case, I question whether it is justifiable that some schools send their children home at 2.45 pm when others keep them in for much longer. The findings of the review will be set out later in the year to inform the spending review, and a broad range of reforms and changes to our school system will be set out.

I said that we would be concentrating this huge investment on two areas that we know work, and the second of them is to give our teachers more professional support. Teachers have done so much for children in the pandemic. Now it is time for us to do even more for those teachers. An extra £400 million will be made available to help provide half a million teacher training opportunities across the country, alongside professional development for those working in early years settings. We will make sure that all of them can access high-quality training, giving them the skills and tools to help every child they work with fulfil their potential.

Of that funding, £153 million will provide professional development for early years staff, including through new programmes that focus on key areas such as speech and language development for very young children, and £253 million will expand existing teacher training and development to give schoolteachers the opportunity to access world-leading training, tailored to whatever point they are at in their careers, from new teachers to aspiring head teachers and head teachers themselves.

We know from numerous studies that the most powerful impact on a child’s learning is made by the teacher in front of them in the classroom. By investing in our teachers, enabling them to grow professionally and develop their skills, we invest not just in them but in every pupil in every class. It is worth adding that we have not lost sight of our main aim, which is to provide world-class education for every child, whatever their background, and to set them up with the knowledge and skills that they need to fulfil their potential and look forward to a happy and fulfilling life. The recovery package will not just go a long way to boost children’s learning in the wake of the disruption caused by the pandemic but help bring down the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers that we have been working so hard to get rid of for so long.

This is the next stage in what will be a sustained programme of support, building on the landmark £14.4 billion uplift in core schools funding that was announced in 2019 and the more than £3 billion in addition that has been announced so far for recovery. As the Prime Minister said last week, there is going to be more coming down the track, but do not forget that this is a huge amount that we are spending. For that reason, I commend the Statement to the House.”

Photo of Lord Watson of Invergowrie Lord Watson of Invergowrie Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 7:40 pm, 8th June 2021

My Lords, I am afraid there is simply no disguising the fact that the resignation of Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner is a huge blow to the Secretary of State’s hopes of delivering on support for school pupils. I have to say that the Secretary of State’s response to the shadow Secretary of State yesterday was inept. He seems to regard all scrutiny and questioning as opposition, ignoring that all Governments need scrutiny to improve policies and their delivery.

At this time, young people and their families are looking to the Government for urgently needed help; a siege mentality will do very little to meet those needs. The mean-spirited plan outlined in the Statement is the one brought forward after the Prime Minister rejected Sir Kevan Collins’s own proposals to provide pupils with extra time and teaching to catch up on lost education over the next three years. The commissioner used his years of experience to produce plans that were simply cast aside by the Treasury. It is probably stretching things to imagine that the Prime Minister even cast his eye over them. The paltry scheme the Government are willing to fund was described by Sir Kevan as “a half-hearted approach” that

“does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge” and

“risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils.”

It is no wonder he resigned.

Sir Kevan’s proposals were costed at £15 billion over the next three years. Last month, the Education Policy Institute published a full set of proposals for education recovery—a package of £13.5 billion over three years, required to reverse learning loss and support pupil well-being. Last week, Labour published our children’s recovery plan; it was costed in detail and totalled £14.7 billion over the next three years. So, in the past month, there have been three proposals, all within the same ballpark in their costings. Yet the Government reckon they have a monopoly on wisdom and believe that around 10% of that amount will get the job done. I know the Minister will say that some support for the recovery has already been committed and more will follow in the spending review, but the Government are so far short of what the experts—and I am not placing the Labour Party in that category—think is required that they effectively inhabit a different world.

It is not simply academic recovery we should be concerned about. Cases of probable mental health disorders have increased from about one in every nine young people to one in every six because of the pandemic, and we are only now beginning to understand how their well-being has suffered as a result of isolation and anxiety. Yet, there was not a single mention of “well-being” or “children’s mental health” in the Secretary of State’s Statement. Even when asked directly yesterday by the shadow Secretary of State, Kate Green MP, he had nothing to say on those areas, which are vital to children’s recovery.

The Statement does mention the national tutoring programme, and that has failed even to meet the target set by the Secretary of State. He promised that a minimum of 65% of tutoring provision would reach pupil premium children, but the National Audit Office recently found that only 44% of those accessing tutoring could be classified as disadvantaged.

I want to ask the Minister questions that may be familiar to her. They were put to the Secretary of State yesterday by Kate Green, but did not receive answers. I am confident that the Minister can do rather better than her boss. Where is the bold action needed to boost children’s well-being and social development, which parents and teachers say is their top priority and is essential to support learning? Where is the increased expert support to tackle the rise in mental health conditions among young people? Where is the targeted investment for those children who missed most time in class, struggled most to learn at home and were left for months without access to remote learning? Where is the funding needed for the pupil premium to replace the stealth cut to school budgets that the Government imposed when they changed the date of the census recently?

As she left office in February, Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield revealed that she had encountered what she termed “institutional bias against children” in this Government, especially in the Treasury. That was an astonishing claim, yet the parsimony of the education recovery package announced certainly reinforces that view. It is one that the Government will need to work hard—much harder, I suggest, than they have done in the past week—to overcome. In this, their hour of real and urgent need, our young people are being failed by this Government.

Photo of Baroness Garden of Frognal Baroness Garden of Frognal Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, I agree with so much of what the noble Lord, Lord Watson, just said. I thank the Minister for the Statement, but I do not think there is much we have not heard before. She often tells us with pride about the £1 million here, the £200 million there, even £14.4 billion—how have I forgotten that, when it is so close to Sir Kevan Collins’s ask? This all begins to add up to real money, but where is the overview, the strategy, the cohesion? I suspect we might have found it in Sir Kevan’s review, had we had the chance to study it before the Government trashed it. I am sure he appreciated being thanked before resigning because of the decimation of his proposals, but then, he consulted real experts and, as I pointed out in my question yesterday, which the Minister wisely ignored, this is not a Government who respect experts, to their shame and to the loss of the rest of us.

I do not suppose that even the Education Secretary’s best friends suggest he is an education expert, so how good it would have been for him and the Government to have taken heed of real education specialists. If the Government genuinely thank Sir Kevan for his efforts, his thoughts and his input, why on earth are they not implementing his well-researched proposals? Of course, tutoring is most welcome. The children who will have lost out most are those from families without the time, technology or education to help them with home lessons and learning. The Minister has told us about the thousands of computers and iPads given to the deserving poor but, for many of them, these will have been useless without tuition. We heard of many families having to share a single piece of kit between numerous students, but without any person to talk them through.

On the tutoring scheme, where are these tutors coming from? Will they be the hard-pressed teachers being asked to do yet more? Or will they perhaps be university students, keen to earn some money while close enough in age but, we hope, superior in wisdom, for the youngsters to feel an affinity? What plans are there to make up all the social parts of school that the noble Lord, Lord Watson, referred to—mixing with others, learning teamwork and how to win, how to lose, how to make friends and how to befriend your enemies? Where are the proposals for the softer skills of school, so vital in life? Where is the careers information and guidance? I could find nothing in the Statement about that.

As the noble Lord, Lord Watson, said, we know the detrimental impact the pandemic has had on the mental and emotional well-being of children and young people, so will the Government take action to evaluate mental health service provision in schools and allocate enough resources to bolster these services and address shortcomings in provision? Research by the Carers Trust shows there has been a worrying decline in the mental health of young carers during the pandemic. What are the Government planning to do to support the educational and emotional recovery of young carers? We hear that many children return to school having forgotten how to sit in a class for an hour, how to pay attention and even how to hold a knife and fork. How are the Government helping them?

How kind to offer more training for overworked teachers. Most teachers are pretty well trained already, and of course there is always room, if not time, for more training, but would our wonderful teachers, who have gone over and above in lockdown for their pupils, not perhaps appreciate some extra pay as a thank you? I declare an interest as the mother of a primary teacher who is working all the hours God gave to ensure that her little four year-olds continue to learn and, perhaps even more importantly, to enjoy learning. Because school should be fun: learning should be exciting and accessible and the youngest children need to find that that is the case so that they really catch the bug of lifelong learning. If the Government are so intent on investing in teachers, why not pay them more?

So, my verdict on the Government is: “Could do better”. Give us the holistic picture. We can see that vast sums have been spent, but could they not have been spent more cohesively, more helpfully and in a more targeted way? These are the next generations, the young people whose skills, knowledge and enthusiasm will be sorely needed to help us through the aftermath of the pandemic, not to mention Brexit. They will be needed to help revive the economy, take the jobs that are needed, not necessarily the ones they wanted, and to be adaptable. I see little in the Statement to show that the Government appreciate the size and breadth of the job that needs to be done.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

My Lords, I repeat the thanks of the Government to Sir Kevan for his work. Actually, there is great scrutiny of this—this is the second opportunity that noble Lords have had to scrutinise it. I am so very grateful to the Private Notice Question procedure in this regard. In relation to his plan, tutoring and the teaching element were part of his recommendations, as part of an overall strategy. I assure the noble Baroness that the strategy is about evidence-based interventions, and it is clear from the information we have from Renaissance Learning that some students in autumn 2020 were, on average, behind by three months in maths and two months in reading. We know that months of catch-up can be done using tutoring as an intervention, whether that is one-on-one or small group. This is an evidence-based part of the strategy and has been part of the recovery package from the beginning, so it is important that it now has about £1 billion worth of funding and includes about 6 million interventions for children.

Noble Lords will have seen the Prime Minister’s comments that this will not be the last word. Obviously, recovery is for the lifetime of this Parliament and it will be part of the forthcoming spending review. Of course, there will be the analysis needed of any extension to the school day or timetable. At the moment, many schools have flexibility on the hours they have in the school day, but the impact on the workforce and all other details need to be taken into account. That is why there will be a consultation or review of that element of the package before any changes are made.

The noble Lord and the noble Baroness mentioned targeting. Throughout the pandemic, vulnerable children were offered a school place, and I think that was unusual across most jurisdictions. We did keep and see, with the work of teachers and outreach, increasing numbers of vulnerable children taking up those school places during the pandemic.

Well-being is obviously a key part of the recovery for children and young people; the noble Baroness outlined the social skills they have missed. As noble Lords will be aware, transition points are particularly important and can be very challenging at the best of times. That is why there is the summer schools programme —a £200 million pot of money—which around 80% of secondary schools have bid into to provide not just education but wider activities, physical exercise and well-being. Over 80% of secondary schools have applied to that pot to provide this provision for their forthcoming year 7 pupils.

I cannot remember the precise amount offhand, but there has been a significant planned investment into CAMHS—child and adolescent mental health services. There has been an investment of £17 million, announced during Mental Health Awareness Week, and one of £79 million, because we are of course aware of the rising demands on schools in relation to mental health, pastoral and bereavement issues at the moment. I spoke today to someone who had visited a large secondary school where, I think, 30 children had lost their parents. These are significant issues, and we are investing to enable over 7,800 schools to have a trained-up senior mental health lead within the school staff. We have been investing in that.

Of course, every year there is the pupil premium, and £2.5 billion has been put in through that this year. I do not think that one should underestimate the flexibility there has been. Although some of the money is targeted, we gave much of the £650 million universal catch-up premium to schools with flexibility so that they have been able to buy in extra pastoral support and do more enrichment activities. We are trying to get that balance between the targeted, and the £200 million that is for summer schools only, and the general school budget, as school leaders know more about the needs of their children.

On the NAO report, the pupil premium and children in tutoring, throughout the pandemic, because of its dynamic nature and employment issues, it was important that school leaders were allowed to classify children as vulnerable. That may be because they did not have the internet access that they should for remote learning, because of caring responsibilities or because of the situation at home. It is not possible to say that it was precisely 44% using the classic measures, but school leaders are using their best judgment. There can be all kinds of reasons why a child needs tutoring because of the totally unpredictable way that the pandemic has affected particular households, so we entrust school leaders to make those decisions. That is not to say that we do not analyse the statistics, but we are aware of the discretion that we must give school leaders.

Our focus in the department is on children. The raison d’être of what we are doing, day in, day out, is to try to enable children to catch up. It is a dynamic picture, as noble Lords are aware. We have now had three reports from Renaissance Learning. Noble Lords will have seen today the additional investment going into the north-west. It is only now, when the tsunami is, I hope, permanently retreating, that we will see the differential impact that the pandemic has had.

On the role of experts, the department is continually engaging with stakeholder groups and teachers, including the unions, school leaders, SEND experts and others, to get their views on what is needed to help children catch up.

On teacher training, there was in fact consideration of delaying the introduction of the early career framework in September, but there was a call from the teaching workforce that it should come in then. The early career framework is important, which is why we are investing in it and guaranteeing that, in the first two years, 10% of time is not in teaching and can be used for mentoring. In the first year, 5% of teaching time will not be in the classroom, so can be for mentoring. There was a desire for that to come in, as it is important.

With what has happened during the pandemic, the professional development of our teaching workforce may, in certain circumstances, have taken a back seat, with all the emergency provision that schools have had to make, such as standing up testing and so on. So it is time to invest in the workforce. The NPQs that we are suggesting are being seriously ramped up; the plan was 1,500 a year, but we are going to 30,000 next year and then to 60,000, so we are really investing in the workforce. In relation, for instance, to the demands made on designated safeguarding leads in our schools at the moment, the NPQ for middle and senior leaders is a very important part of supporting teachers. The evidence is there—it can make a difference of about half a grade at GCSE—that it is one of the single most important things that we can provide for high-quality teaching. Professional development generally, but not always, enhances the quality of teaching.

On pay, the noble Baroness is aware that, in September 2020, there was an average pay rise of 3.1% and a 5.5% uplift to the starting salary. We are still committed to introducing a starting salary of £30,000 but, as I said yesterday, we are in a fiscal situation that none of us would want, having had to borrow the amount that we did during the pandemic. Unfortunately, difficult decisions on funding have had to be made.

I am sure that this will not be the last time that I come to the Dispatch Box to answer questions on recovery funding. I pay tribute to the schools, most of which have just gone back, and all that is going on to help children recover from the effects of the pandemic, not just educationally but socially, emotionally and psychologically.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

We now come to the 30 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. I ask that questions and answers are brief, so that I can call the maximum number of speakers.

Photo of Baroness Bull Baroness Bull Crossbench 7:59 pm, 8th June 2021

My Lords, as the Statement makes clear, the educational impact has been felt most keenly by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and in areas hardest hit by Covid, further entrenching the attainment gap between private and state-educated students. I know that the Minister is engaging regularly with the Independent Schools Council about the role its members can play in supporting state sector students to catch up. However, does she agree that, while many excellent partnerships are in place between private schools and their local state school, the urgent need to address the geographical inequality we have heard about will not be resolved through partnerships based on colocation, given that state schools in the vicinity of fee-paying schools are often already among the better resourced? Will her department take the lead in brokering a strategic programme of digitally based partnerships between the independent and state sectors that would target support on those communities most in need and see the charitable status of independent schools put to good use?

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The noble Baroness is indeed correct that getting these partnerships right is important. We often see that the engagement is more strategic when it is between secondary independent schools and their local primary schools, where they can add enormous value. I am about to host a partnerships round table to see where they are successful and where we can spread that best practice. I am keen that we think outside the box. I thank her very much for that suggestion, because this is a time when there is such good will from the independent sector, but we have not managed to plug that into the right place, for various reasons. I will take back the suggestion to the round table.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

I understand that the noble Baroness, Lady Wyld, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady Donaghy.

Photo of Baroness Donaghy Baroness Donaghy Chair, EU Services Sub-Committee, Chair, EU Services Sub-Committee

The Secretary of State has laid great emphasis on a tutoring revolution. He seemed to link the review of school hours with the spending round, almost as though he was planning a battle with teachers instead of working with them. I hope the Minister can assure us that that is not the case. Surely it would be more productive to concentrate on core funding of a whole school environment, including exercise, extra tutoring and socialisation, instead of the current unhealthy relationship, where limited conditional funding is doled out as if in a master/servant relationship. How will we know what success looks like in the tutoring programme? What measure of independence will there be in that judgment?

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I assure the noble Baroness that there is absolutely no intention to have a battle with teachers at all. It is children first and foremost who we all need to focus on at the moment, as well as the well-being of the workforce in schools. As I outlined, much of the money has been given to schools so that it is part of their core schools budget, such as the £650 million we have given and the second tranche of £302 million, which was recovery premium money. They have the flexibility to spend on the array of activities.

On the tutoring programme, through the Renaissance Learning work we are monitoring where students are at in their learning. The contract was properly procured, and it is a sign of good management that we put it out to the market and have saved substantial money on that section of the contract. As the noble Baroness will be aware, there will be no school performance data, but that data will be available to the department and to Ofsted. We will of course track very carefully what the outcome of the tutoring programme is in relation to how much schools buy and the impact it has. I will ensure that the noble Baroness is aware of any publicly distributed data in that regard.

Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)

The tutoring programme is really important to the recovery programme. The best tutoring is where the pupil has a relationship with and an understanding of the tutor. In many cases that is not happening; it is a virtual stranger. Has the Minister thought about how we could improve the tutoring arrangements? I am fascinated by her comment in the Statement that we have the best tutoring system in the world. What empirical evidence do we have to make such a statement?

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I am pleased to assure the noble Lord that this third chunk of money for tutoring is being distributed in a different way. One reason is as he outlined. Some £579 million will go to schools for what we are now calling school-led provision. Schools may want to use their existing staff, make part-time staff such as TAs more full-time and use local tutoring, such as retired teachers and so on, in their workforce. The noble Lord is right to say, particularly in the case of many SEN students and vulnerable children, that the existing relationship with a TA, for example, might be the best provision for a student.

Therefore, this £579 million, which is separate from academic mentors and tuition partners through the NTP, will now go to schools. As I said to the noble Lord yesterday, that will provide even greater flexibility to schools that might want to fund other subjects that the tuition partners are not providing in support. More of the arts subjects, for example, could therefore be covered, so there will be flexibility. Around £1 billion is going into tutoring, which is a large sum. I would not want to say precisely in relation to each jurisdiction that it is the top amount, although we are spending a considerable amount on tutoring because the evidence tells us that it will help children to catch up.

Photo of Baroness Falkner of Margravine Baroness Falkner of Margravine Crossbench

My Lords, I applaud the noble Baroness for her defence of a policy that I think she recognises is entirely indefensible. She calls for more evidence but have the Government thought of looking at the US, which is spending £1,600 per child, or the Netherlands, which is spending £2,500 per pupil? When she talks about fiscal consolidation, has she thought about the competing pressures on a global Britain, the future of work and the technological changes that will happen? They will require a little bit more spending than £50 per pupil per year.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

On technological advance, I will be in front of noble Lords next week talking about schools and post-16 education, which is part of the Government’s skills policy. As I previously outlined, I am nervous about international comparisons. It is appropriate in relation to some of the money distributed, such as the £650 million, which, from memory, is £80 per pupil, and £240 for SEND or AP pupils, because it relates to general schools money. However, one cannot look at the £200 million on a per-pupil basis because it is for summer schools and available only to year 7.

The £1 billion for tutoring is targeted at disadvantaged students and we do not know whether the figures that the noble Baroness outlined include the £400 million that has gone into technology and remote learning for the 1.3 million laptops. Per-pupil funding is not always comparing apples with apples. That is a key part of our strategy. I agree that the pandemic has affected all children and there is a case for amounts such as the £650 million to go to all schools but the evidence that we are getting from different areas of the country on disadvantaged students is why a huge proportion of the money is targeted at them through the tutoring programme.

Photo of Lord Triesman Lord Triesman Labour

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, said that the Government could do better. Speaking candidly, I think that they could hardly do worse. I was horrified by the derisory per-capita recovery funding that is to be spent on all children, as the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, has just said, if they are to recover from the body blows to their education and future prospects. I have little doubt that that provoked the principled resignation of Sir Kevan. I imagine that that is also painful for the Minister, who is an honourable person. It is still worse in the aftermath of Marcus Rashford’s great campaign against childhood hunger, where the Government’s response was so poor.

It is true that the international comparisons stand up; it is fair to compare such things in these circumstances, and the facts cannot be obscured. The United States is going to spend 32 times as much on its recovery for kids as we are, while the Government here spend vast amounts on their friends and donors in this pandemic, rather than on the United Kingdom’s kids. The figures are well documented. What urgent plans does the Minister have in place to review and repair this miserly approach? She has mentioned a contingency plan that the Prime Minister may inaugurate. Is she committing to the money that that contingency plan may demand in the circumstances? Can she say more about the money for further education, where so many 16 to 18 year-olds are now educated?

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We will have to beg to differ on international comparisons; I believe I have comprehensively explained our view of those comparisons. As I said, there will be a review of the extension to the school day. In the forthcoming spending review, we will look at the ongoing need for recovery during this Parliament. We have been clear that recovery is for the length of this Parliament, and this will not be the last word on recovery, I am sure.

I turn to provision for 16 to 19 year-olds. Some 75% of colleges are reporting that their students are between one and five months behind. The tuition fund has been bolstered by a further £222 million, in addition to increased revenue funding, bringing the total over those three years to £324 million to enable these students to catch up. We have also made clear that, where appropriate, students in year 13 or the equivalent can repeat the school year, but that is up to school leaders to fund. Importantly, there has been an additional £8 million for vulnerable students who are transitioning to 16 to 19 from alternative provision, to make sure that they get to the right post-16 destination. We had very strong feedback from stakeholders that the first tranche of transition money was useful in being able to secure the correct 16 to 19 provision for those vulnerable young people.

Photo of Baroness Prashar Baroness Prashar Crossbench

Can the Minister assure the House that early years recovery will be a specific focus and that the amount of pupil premium will be increased in the early years sector to reflect more accurately the influence on children’s lives during this critical stage? Furthermore, will the focus on learning through play, communication skills, literacy and numeracy, and the retention and professional development of early years teachers, be prioritised? Does the Minister also agree that early learning and valuing early education teachers is a much needed, necessary long-term investment and should not be seen as a short-term catch-up?

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The noble Baroness is correct. There is evidence of loss, particularly for reception and year 1 and in the early years before that. Within the teaching section of this education recovery package, there is £153 million of funding to provide the opportunity of professional development for early years practitioners. That is investment in the workforce. Previously, in the first recovery tranche, £18 million was invested in initiatives such as the Nuffield Early Language Intervention, colloquially known as NELI. We have seen other initiatives, including considerable use of Hungry Little Minds, the department’s campaign to help raise communication skills in that part of our population. There is also BBC Bitesize and other facilities for the early years. Those early years pupils in reception classes within the school system have been part of the main recovery package.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

The noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox of Newport.

Photo of Baroness Wilcox of Newport Baroness Wilcox of Newport Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Wales)

My Lords, I speak as a former teacher with over 30 years’ front-line classroom experience. Kevan Collins’ resignation is a damning indictment of the Conservatives’ education catch-up plan. He is an expert who was brought in by the Prime Minister because of his experience and expertise, but the Government threw out his ideas as soon as they needed to stump up the money to deliver them.

Labour has a comprehensively detailed recovery plan for our children and young people. Our teachers have had one of the toughest years of their careers, and it is only by supporting them with training to stay on top of the latest knowledge and techniques that we can give children and young people a brilliant classroom experience in these most difficult times. So what more does the Minister plan to do to help teachers and their pupils?

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her support for the fact that the training of teachers is important. We have outlined in this package considerable support for them, and that will be over the next two to three years. Obviously we are aware of the situation. That is why the review of the school day needs to listen to the views not just of teachers but of the workforce generally. We should not underestimate the strain that has been felt by school business professionals running the money and often overseeing the building with additional demands, and all the administrative and teaching assistant staff who there are in our schools. We will be looking carefully at the extension of the school day.

Unfortunately there have been difficult decisions to make in relation to funding. As I have mentioned to noble Lords, the one-year spending review did not bring any money to the department for any new free schools, including SEND free schools, which is a big indication of where we are. We are hoping for a spending review that will be a multiyear settlement.