In yesterday’s Opposition Day debate on allocation of funding for the pupil catch-up premium, I highlighted the devastating consequences of administrative changes for schools in the constituency, and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on disadvantaged children and families.

For many children, home learning has been very difficult.

The effects haven’t been felt evenly; with disadvantaged children hit hardest. Data from 2019/20 revealed that 36.9% of children in Easington were living in poverty.

Whereas previous Pupil Premium funding allocation was based on data collected in the January census of pupils, funding for the 2021/22 financial year will be based on the October 2020 census.

The North East could lose up to £7 million owing to these administrative changes, as schools with children who have become eligible for funding during the pandemic will not receive any additional funding for another year.

In Easington, 20 out of 28 primary schools will be affected. The average loss will be £9,400, and the worst-affected schools stand to lose nearly £30,000.

The total loss to schools in the constituency is £179,000.

It is reprehensible to remove resources from schools at any time, but to do so after the biggest public health crisis for a generation and when more funding is urgently required is unconscionable.

Funding education is an investment in our children and society that will reap dividends today and in the future.

Labour’s motion called for the disclosure of all papers, correspondence and advice – including emails and text messages – from February 3 to June 2 – between Treasury ministers, senior officials and special advisers relating to plans developed by Covid catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins.

This came after the Department responded to Sir Kevan’s ambition for a £15 billion Covid catch-up plan by announcing a funding package of £1.4 billion – less than 10% of what is required.

Sir Kevan was clear in his view, stating:

“A half-hearted approach… Without a comprehensive and urgent response, we risk failing hundreds of thousands of pupils.

The support announced by government so far does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge and is why I have no option but to resign from my post.”

The only comprehensive aspect of the government’s plan is the scale of the failure to meet the challenge we face. Sir Kevan adds:

“I do not believe it is credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size.”

“The average primary school will directly receive just £6,000 per year, equivalent to £22 per child. Not enough is being done to help vulnerable pupils, children in the early years or 16- to 19-year-olds.”

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