A promise to set up an expert group to look at solutions for uneven lost learning across the country has been dropped by the Department for Education.

Instead, the task of addressing lost learning will fall within the remit of Sir Kevan Collins who was appointed education recovery commissioner last week.

Before exams were cancelled in December, the DfE announced the advisory panel would “monitor and advise on lost and differential learning” because of the pandemic. Ofqual had said learning loss across different regions was “one of the most intractable issues”.

Two months later, the DfE has now said it has been scrapped.

A DfE spokesperson added: “We recognise that school closures have had a significant impact on the education of young people across the country, and that disruption will have been felt differently by individual students, depending on their circumstances.

“Sir Kevan Collins, in his role as Education Recovery Commissioner, will work with government on assessing and addressing the impact of differential learning loss for students.”

Announcing his appointment last week, the government said Collins 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.

catch-up

Sir Kevan Collins

“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.”

Collins, former chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, will report directly to prime minister Boris Johnson and education secretary Gavin Williamson.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at heads union ASCL, said it is “disappointing” weeks have been “wasted” since the government announced it would set up the group, but welcomed Collins’ appointment.

She added it was important he engaged widely with the sector to “ensure that whatever plans and proposals the government comes up with to address learning loss are based on strong evidence and are supported by teachers parents and pupils”.

McCulloch added: “The loss of the expert learning loss group is ultimately less important than making sure Sir Kevan is able to draw on the widespread expertise available to him.”

Request to set up lost learning task group

Collins’ to do list is already large. The government has promised an additional £300 million for tutoring, a programme of summer schools and touted a Covid premium to support catch-up.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that the DfE is understood to be studying the cost-effectiveness of adding on extra classes at the beginning and end of the school day.

The Association of Colleges has already written to Collins’ suggesting a task group to support him in looking at lost learning in colleges and helping with transitions into jobs.

The government was criticised last week over sluggishness in setting up the group, which it admitted at the time had been “refocused”.