The government has “maxed out” on catch-up funding, the chancellor Rishi Sunak said today.
Speaking to Times Radio this morning, Sunak was asked about calls from the sector for more than £5 billion extra catch-up funding in schools. Prime minister Boris Johnson had said education was his “biggest priority” following Covid.
The chancellor said today government “decided to act in advance and not wait for the spending review”, citing the £3 billion in tutoring that has already been announced.
“Having looked through it all, it’s pretty clear the two things that make the biggest difference to children’s learning is tutoring in small groups and making sure teachers have all the development and training and support they need to be absolutely brilliant.
“We have pretty much maxxed out on those things. Because there is a constraint on how much of that can be reasonably delivered.”
Sir Kevan Collins resigned as the government’s catch-up commissioner after ministers refused to fund his recovery plans, which totalled £15 billion and included lengthening the school day.
Instead, government committed £1.4 billion and launched a review on the time spent in schools.
When challenged about lengthening the school day, Sunak said: “There isn’t as strong an evidence base for [this], compared to tutoring and improving the quality and support we give to teachers.”
He said the current catch-up cash to fund six million courses of tutoring is “going to make an enormous difference. We’ve never done anything like that before. I’m proud we did it early and didn’t want for the spending review.”