Schools: Kent

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department plans to take to reduce the gap in educational provision between state and private schools in Kent after the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

We recognise that all children and young people have had their education disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is our ambition, shared by schools, to ensure that all pupils have the chance to make up for this lost education - ensuring that everyone can reach their potential in the long term.

We appreciate that this ambition will be challenging for schools to deliver. That is why we are introducing a ‘Catch Up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million. This will be available to all state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision. Our expectation is that this funding will be spent on supporting children and young people to catch up after a period of disruption to their education. Alongside this universal offer, we have also announced a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils. This will increase access to high quality tuition for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers.

To support state schools to provide education online while they were closed to the majority of pupils, the Government committed over £100 million to boost access to remote education. This includes providing laptops and tablets and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

The Department also supported sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This new enterprise was created by 40 teachers from schools across England and produced at least 180 hours of online lessons per week. There were at least four hours of lessons per day for secondary, and at least three hours for primary. By 12 July, 4.7 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 16.1 million lessons had been viewed. Additionally, the BBC developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV, BBC iPlayer and online at BBC Bitesize.

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