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Educational Catch-up Provision Funding

Volume 697: debated on Tuesday 22 June 2021

What assessment he has made with the Secretary of State for Education of the (a) effectiveness, (b) value for money and (c) adequacy of the funding allocated to educational catch-up provision announced on 2 June 2021. (901606)

We are providing a further £1.4 billion over the next three academic years for education recovery. This is on top of the £1.7 billion provided for academic year 2020-21.

It has been widely reported that it was the Chancellor who refused by a 90% margin to find the funding recommended by Sir Kevan Collins to help our nation’s children to catch up on their education after the pandemic. The Chancellor has benefited from a first-class private education, so will he take this opportunity to apologise to the generation of children he is letting down as the Tories refuse to invest in our children’s and our country’s future?

There was a striking omission from that question. There was no reference at all to the additional £2.2 billion of core school funding, over and above which there is the £1.4 billion announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. Of course, the House would expect proposals to be evidence-led, deliverable and provide value for money, and we will work with Department for Education colleagues on that, but there was no mention in the hon. Gentleman’s question of the additional £2.2 billion of core school spending uplift this year.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated that the significant long-term cost to our economy from the Chancellor’s failure to invest in our children and young people is as much as £350 billion in lost earnings. Has the Treasury done its own assessment and will the Minister have the decency to publish it?

As I said in my last answer, we will have a review to inform the question in terms of the impact on time. Most of the debates that we have had in this House have focused on teacher quality as the biggest driver of outcomes for children, so we need to see the evidence of it. For example, if we look at Finland, we see that Finland has a shorter school day but a higher PISA—programme for international student assessment—result. If we look at the USA, we see that it has a longer school day but a lower PISA result. So it is right that we look at the evidence, but teacher quality is usually seen as the bigger driver and that is why we have funded the tuition in the way that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has.

With this Government, it seems that it is a case of “don’t know, don’t care”. The reality is that the Chancellor’s failure to invest in our children’s future is the very definition of a false economy. The Chancellor recently said that he could not say yes to everyone. He seemed to have no problem saying yes to the friends and donors of the Conservative party, but it is a no to the children who urgently need support to catch up after the biggest disruption to their education for a generation. Is the Minister really proud of that?

I am very proud that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has committed an additional £7.1 billion over three years to increase the school uplift, with £2.2 billion this year alone. I am very proud that he announced £1.7 billion of additional recovery funding. I am proud that he announced a further £1.4 billion, but again, the hon. Lady appears to have written her question before hearing the answer. The answer was that we will of course look as part of our review at the effectiveness of the additional time. I have cited some of the international evidence that we will look at, but teacher quality is usually the bigger driver and that is why we have focused on teacher training but also on the tuition programme, so that we are training an additional 500,000 teachers and rolling out 6 million tuition courses to get that targeted learning support to children across the country.