The UK government's attempts to develop a catch-up strategy to support the snowballing learning gap caused by COVID-19 lockdowns is woefully inadequate. It was bad enough when they were willing to throw money at big tutoring firms who were pocketing a heavy commission whilst their tutors earned the bare minimum. Now, it seems, they are at each other's throats over the cost of an education recovery, squabbling over an extra half an hour, shorter school holidays and yet more tuition.
To put this into context, the proposed funding equates to a mere £50 extra per student; whereas in the US, an extra £1600 per student has been promised, as well as the Netherlands who are providing £2500 per student (Sky News). It's a weak and shortsighted attempt to plug holes in a sinking ship. Teachers and school staff have been working above and beyond, but the support from the powers that be just isn't there.The NTP is being tweaked, handing control back to schools by allowing them to choose and pay tutors of their choice. Although this next stage is receiving more funding than the first wave, schools are expected to gradually foot the bill, in full, within three years. The project has also been outsourced to a Dutch recruitment company called Ranstad, with vocal criticism against this move due to their lack of expertise in the tricky field of private tutoring, which has already come under fire in recent months.
What can students do in such a difficult and challenging time? Well it seems anything to support their wellbeing at this stage. There will inevitably be some very disappointed teenagers in August and the prospect of repeating year 13 will not be very appealing to students who missed out on grades due to no fault of their own.
It really was the time for dramatic changes across the board and yet again, mediocre plans were revealed. It's not good enough! So as teachers and tutors, it is more important than ever that our students are reminded that grades aren't everything, but surviving a pandemic is a hugely significant milestone and a moment in history no one will likely forget.