Coronavirus: UK announces £1 billion ‘catch-up’ plan for disadvantaged pupils in England

The UK government has announced a €1.1 billion plan for schoolchildren in England.

The scheme will help “catch up” with school those children that “have fallen behind” during the coronavirus lockdown.

The “most disadvantaged” pupils will access a €388 million “tutoring programme”, while the other €720 million will support primary and secondary schools to “lift educational outcomes” during the 2020/21 year.

It will be up to the schools to decide how to allocate the money, but the government expects the funds “to be spent on small group tuition for whoever needs it”.

This £1 billion package arrives on top of a £14 billion three-year funding settlement announced last year.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that no children “can lose out as a result of COVID-19”, and added that the scale of the response “must match the scale of the challenge.”

“The plan will be delivered throughout the next academic year, bringing long term reform to the educational sector that will protect a generation of children from the effects of this pandemic”, he said in a statement sent to Euronews by the Department For Education.

UK’s Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey responded to the announcement saying that the new plan “is certainly a welcome start but it needs to be backed with a detailed national education plan to get children’s education and health back on track.”

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UK schools closed on March 20 amid the outbreak that has so far claimed over 42,000 lives in the country, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

On June 2, children in nursery, kindergarten, year 1 and 6 returned to class in England but plans to send all primary pupils back to school before the summer holidays were dropped amid safety concerns.

Each of the UK’s four nations is following its own deconfinement roadmap.

Scotland and Northern Ireland plan to resume or partially resume classes in August, while Wales is expected to reopen schools at the end of June.

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