The government has today announced the appointment of Sir Kevan Collins as the government’s Education Recovery Commissioner, to oversee a comprehensive programme of catch-up aimed at young people who have lost out on learning due to the pandemic. Worcester MP Robin Walker has said this is evidence of the government’s commitment to ensuring young people in his constituency aren’t left behind as a result of the pandemic.
The reopening of schools is a national priority. The Prime Minister recognises that school closures have had a huge impact on children’s learning and has pledged to work with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure pupils have the chance to make up their learning over the course of this Parliament.
Sir Kevan will lead this work. He is a prominent figure in education, having worked in the sector for over 30 years as a teacher, a Director of Children’s Services and most recently as Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation.
In his new role, he will work with government to deliver measures that will support children who have missed out on face-to-face education due to extended school closures.
This will include addressing factors such as curriculum content and quantity of teaching time in the coming months, to ensure the impact the pandemic has had on learning is addressed as quickly and comprehensively as possible.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister committed to providing a huge programme of catch up, recognising that the disruption of this year has had a huge impact which will take more than a year to make up.
This will involve a further £300 million on tutoring programmes, building on last year’s £1 billion Covid Catch Up fund, as well as potential plans for summer schools developed in partnership with the education sector.
Worcester MP Robin Walker said:
“I have been contacted by parents, grandparents and even students themselves about the impact the virus has had on students’ learning and development. I have been liaising with school leaders in Worcester and colleagues in government to ensure we are doing all we can to get the best deal for the future of young people.
“A major outcome of locking down is that face time with students has been massively restricted, leaving it to parents to monitor home schooling. Parents and guardians in Worcester have done an incredible job of helping students stay on top of their work but inevitably some young people will be further ahead than others.
“I welcome Sir Kevan’s appointment and look forward to hearing about the work he will be doing to plug the gap this pandemic has unfortunately caused for young people in Worcester.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I am absolutely determined that no child will be left behind as a result of the pandemic.
“Our top priority is to get schools open again and once they are, we will make sure that teachers and students are equipped with the resources and the time they need to make up for lost learning.
“I am delighted that Sir Kevan has been appointed to lead this vital work – his experience and expertise will help ensure every young person is supported to catch up on their education and gain the skills and knowledge they need to be able to seize opportunities in future.”
Sir Kevan will report directly to the Education Secretary and the Prime Minister, and will consult closely with parents, teachers and schools as part of his role.
While schools have been closed to the majority of pupils, the government has been doing everything possible to support children to learn from home. The Department for Education has purchased more than one million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged young people, supporting them to access remote education.
Oak National Academy was also set up last year and is backed by government – with 10,000 online lessons created by teachers available.
The government is due to set out further details on its approach to re-opening schools as part of its plan for leaving lockdown, which will be published in mid-February.