This week government confirmed its £1.4billion Covid recovery package for our already underfunded schools. Unfortunately the plans will do little to help kids ‘catch-up’ and offer no solutions to parents.
Even the government’s ‘catch-up tsar’ Sir Kevan Collins recommended to the treasury a figure of about £14bn that would be needed to reverse the adverse effects of children in Britain having had more time out of school than anywhere else in Europe – losing an average of 95 days of in-person teaching – while 200,000 more children are experiencing probable mental health conditions. And after his proposals were rejected by the government, he tendered his resignation.
My colleagues in the Shadow Education Team have proposed an alternative plan with a meticulous, bold vision – backed by what would amount to £15bn in spending. Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan proposes a shift in focus designed to create happy and healthy learning environments – where all children ‘play, learn and develop’ in the wake of lost education and isolation during the pandemic.
The plan would deliver new funding for breakfast clubs and activities, mental health support, small group tutoring, teacher training and free school meals. It shows voters the Labour Party is serious about our children’s future and is not prepared to allow a ‘lost generation’ of young people.
As the Education Policy Institute has indicated, Labour’s proposed investment is nothing compared to the estimated £420bn cost to the economy and the estimated costs to the taxpayer of not supporting the reinvigoration of children’s education. And it is, quite frankly, astonishing the UK has fallen so far behind the flourishing education systems of our closest neighbours and peer nations. The think tank says total catch-up funding in England is only worth £310 per pupil over three years, compared with £1,600 in the United States and £2,500 in the Netherlands. The Conservative government is leaving young people behind.
Of course, similar spending commitments are needed in higher education with mental health support, careers advice and support with paying exorbitant fees and rent. On a similar note, I recently launched a campaign for great funding and tangible measures to combat sexual violence and harassment at universities – including ideas for policies that have proven popular in the sector, such as mandatory consent training and data collection.
Elsewhere, the battle goes on to save the Warwick M&S ‘Simply Food’ supermarket. Warwick Labour will once again be out collecting signatures for our petition which has now gained 3,300 names. I will be meeting M&S bosses next Monday and have launched a final push for signatures – including a stall in Warwick town centre on Saturday (May 5) and a partnership with local businesses and the Warwick Chamber of Trade to encourage customers to sign up too. I want to urge people for a final time to sign the petition through my website or show up on Saturday to sign in person.
Please support our local businesses and our high streets.