In two letters to the Prime Minister, coordinated by Fair Education Alliance and the National Children’s Bureau, and signed by over 240 leaders from across business, education and the charity sectors, campaigners have again urged the Government to invest in their stated intention of levelling up and show real ambition for the recovery for children and young people.
The coalition notes that while researchers estimate £13.5bn is needed to help children recover from a year of disruption, isolation and anxiety, the Chancellor has committed to spend only one tenth of this amount.
Campaigners insist the pandemic has deepened the existing crisis in funding for the education of disadvantaged children. Alongside extra money for schools to spend on staff development and interventions for pupils, a wider investment in measures to address the impact of Covid-19 on children and young people is urgently needed, such as:
- reversing rising child poverty
- reducing waiting times for mental health help for children and young people, and
- investing in the services that protect children from abuse and neglect.
Alongside the letters, business leaders have highlighted that a strong education system and wider support for those in need of help is critical for future economic success.
Experts are calling for the Government to set out a new and ambitious vision of childhood and education to support children, young people and their families to recover from the impact of COVID-19, with #ChildrenAtTheHeart.
Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “The pandemic has affected every single child in the country, causing untold disruption to their education, development and welfare. Children with disabilities, those suffering from trauma, and the millions living in poverty have been hit the hardest. Yet the money promised to help their recovery falls far short, and sends the message to struggling families that they simply aren’t a priority for the Government.
“As well as making up lost ground in education, we have to fight for a better deal for our children, one that protects their mental health, secures them adequate support services, and overcomes the devastating effects of poverty. The breadth of organisations calling for government to realise this is too wide-reaching to ignore.”
The coalition said while the £1.5 billion investment in education announced on 2 June is welcome, this level of investment is not nearly enough to support holistic recovery plans for children and young people.
There was already significant inequality between poorer pupils and their wealthier peers pre-pandemic which required investment: these have been exacerbated. Recovery plans need to take this into account, as well as the damage done by lockdowns.