Pupils: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 1st June 2022.

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Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Conservative, Warrington South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that pre-reception and post-reception children can recover their ability to speak and understand language during the covid-19 recovery.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

In total, the department has announced almost £5 billion for an ambitious, multi-year education recovery plan to support young people to catch up on missed learning.

As part of education recovery, the department is investing up to £180 million of recovery support in the early years sector. Strengthening understanding of speech and language development is an important part of this support.

The recovery includes investing in continuous professional development for early years practitioners, through the national expansion of the early years Professional Development Programme, which has a focus on upskilling practitioners to support the early development of literacy and language and early mathematics, alongside personal, social, and emotional development. The department is also investing over £24 million for local authorities to select and train early years practitioners in the best programmes to support parents with the home learning environment. This aims to improve children’s early language and social and emotional development, giving priority to families that will benefit the most.

Additionally, the department is investing £17 million for the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI), which is a proven programme aimed at the reception aged children needing extra support with their speech and language development. We are also increasing the number of qualified special educational needs coordinators in early years settings.

The Recovery Premium, providing £1.3 billion for the 2021/22, 2022/23 and 2023/24 academic years, is additional funding to help schools deliver evidence-based approaches to support education recovery. Recovery Premium eligibility builds on that of the pupil premium. However, school leaders have flexibility to use the funding to support any pupil where a need is identified, including those with speech and language difficulties. Schools can use their funding to assess and address immediate needs, such as those relating to speech and language difficulties, as well as longer-term strategic improvements, such as boosting the quality of oracy teaching.

The Parent Pledge in the Schools White Paper will also make the department’s vision clear that any child who falls behind in English or mathematics will receive the right evidence-based targeted support to get them back on track.

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