Sir Kevan Collins appointed as education recovery tsar to help pupils catch up

Eleanor Busby, PA Education Correspondent

The Government has appointed an education recovery commissioner to oversee a catch-up programme for pupils who have missed out on learning due to the pandemic.

Sir Kevan Collins, the former chief executive of the Education Endowment Fund (EEF), will lead the Government’s work to help children and young people recover any learning lost amid Covid-19.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced schools would receive £300 million of new money for catch-up tutoring as he confirmed that closures in England would be extended until at least March 8.

The Prime Minister told MPs last week that the Government would work with schools to develop “a long-term plan” so pupils had the chance to make up their learning “over the course of this Parliament”.

Sir Kevan, who has more than 30 years of experience working in the education sector, will work with the Government to support pupils who have missed out on face-to-face education due to extended school closures.

This will include addressing a range of factors – such as curriculum content and quantity of teaching time – in the coming months to ensure the impact that Covid-19 has had on learning is tackled urgently.

Mr Johnson said: “I am absolutely determined that no child will be left behind as a result of the pandemic.

“Our top priority is to get schools open again and once they are, we will make sure that teachers and students are equipped with the resources and the time they need to make up for lost learning.

“I am delighted that Sir Kevan has been appointed to lead this vital work – his experience and expertise will help ensure every young person is supported to catch up on their education and gain the skills and knowledge they need to be able to seize opportunities in future.”

The announcement comes after an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) paper warned that pupils who have lost six months of normal schooling could lose approximately £40,000 each in income over their lifetime.

The report called for a “massive injection” of resources to help pupils catch up after many children will have missed out on around half a year of in-person lessons due to Covid-19 disruption.

In June last year, Mr Johnson said £350 million would be spent on the National Tutoring Programme over 2020-21 to help the most disadvantaged pupils.

But the IFS research said the positive results of the scheme are unlikely to be “anything like enough to deal with the seismic loss in learning time.”

Sir Kevan will report directly to the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, and he will consult with parents, teachers and schools as part of his role.

Mr Williamson said: “Sir Kevan brings a wealth of experience in education policy that I know will be invaluable in supporting all the young people who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“He will be a tremendous asset to those young people, their families, and everyone working in education who have my lasting gratitude for their efforts to support young people throughout the pandemic.

“I look forward to working with Sir Kevan as we deliver our existing National Tutoring Programme that is already reaching tens of thousands of young people who need it most, expand our catch up provision for this year and work on the longer term recovery to make sure every young person has the opportunity to progress and fulfil their potential.”

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