This has seen Mr Sunak tell this newspaper that he was unconvinced by measures that Sir Kevan put forward while, at the same time, conceding that “we can’t wait years” for action to help pupils catch up on learning, and opportunites, lost to Covid, and to tackle an attainment gaps that were already pronounced before the pandemic.
Which is it? But the Chancellor’s caution over the public finances needs to be set in the context of the limited amount of funding made available to schools during the pandemic in comparison to other spheres of policy and the abject leadership of Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
A government serious about ‘levelling up’ would have education at the heart of the policy agenda. Yet the Department for Education has been largely ambivalent – all while Mr Williamson’s presence in the Cabinet makes Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary branded ‘hopeless’ by the PM, look like a ‘minister of the year’ contender by comparison.
And, while she’ll be too diplomatic to say so, it explains, in part, why the Duchess of Cambridge is launching her own Centre for Early Childhood in a landmark move. Her Royal Highness recognises the importance of early years education – so did Sir Kevan Collins. So why not Mr Sunak and the Treasury?