Anne Longfield, England's Children's Commissioner, lays out ambitious plan to rebuild nation's schooling

An ambitious plan to help rebuild the nation’s schooling in the wake of the coronavirus crisis has been laid out by the Children’s Commissioner for England.

Anne Longfield has called for wide-ranging and radical changes to be instigated to help narrow the gulf in attainment across the country while also giving pupils the necessary support to ensure they fulfil their full potential.

She has called for a 10-year plan to witness a huge injection of investment into the North of England’s schools to mirror the success of ramping up education levels in London at the turn of the 21st century.

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Improved careers advice for students, more support for existing teachers as well as a wide-ranging recruitment drive are essential components to helping rebuild the education sector, according to Mrs Longfield.

She has also called for an increasing number of the Government’s network of Sure Start centres - or family hubs - to provide support for families and streamline the advice and support that is available from agencies.

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The financial crisis caused by coronavirus has witnessed a dramatic increase in claimants. There were 4.2m households claiming Universal Credit in May last year, a rise of 1.7m since February of the same year.

Ms Longfield said: “I am an optimist, but I am also a realist, and I am fully aware that the Government’s finances are under immense pressure due to coronavirus. But it is now more urgent than ever that we act.

“If there is the support there for families to draw upon, then they will feel that they are not on their own and they have someone who is fighting their corner.”

The Children’s Commissioner also stressed the need to provide incentives for companies to provide job opportunities for students about to embark on their future careers.

Yorkshire has witnessed an increasing breadth to its economy in recent years, with major employers such as Channel 4 opting to create a headquarters in Leeds, and the growth of the green energy industries around the Humber.

However, Ms Longfield said more needed to be done to allow children from across the region to benefit from job opportunities that exist elsewhere in the country.

She said: “Children who have come from disadvantaged backgrounds have told me they simply do not know what they will do when they leave school.

“The opportunities in London and the South-East are often sadly not available in other parts of the country, and employers do need to

“There is a double-whammy for many children in some of the more deprived areas of Yorkshire. They have lower expectations of what their life chances hold, and now with all the disruption that is being amplified.

“The problems are entrenched for many already, and the pandemic has simply accentuated the issues.”