He’s the acclaimed London head picked by Boris Johnson to become Education Recovery Commissioner in the wake of widespread disquiet about the mishandling of schools policy during the Covid lockdowns.
But the key test is whether the PM backs Sir Kevan as his plan to help children catch up on lost learning is unveiled – or whether this role, like so many, was typical tokenism.
According to reports, Sir Kevan advocates extending the school day by 30 minutes, extra tutoring for five million pupils and allowing sixth-form students to spend an extra year completing their A-level studies if necessary.
Yet, while it should be up to individual headteachers – and LEAs – to decide what is best for their schools, all remedial measures will cost money to implement and it is ominous, nearly a year after last summer’s exams fiasco, that funding is still unresolved due to the serial failure of the Education Secretary to make a sufficiently convincing case to his Cabinet colleagues.
Evidently, Sir Kevan’s believes his plan will cost £15bn to implement over three years. Yet the Government reportedly wants to spend one tenth of that amount – £1.5bn – on the catch-up plan.
But here’s the clincher. Sir Kevan’s report is said to warn that Government inaction could cost some £1.5 trillion – 100 times the cost of his proposals.
As such, the issue is not whether the country can justify the outlay. It is whether it can afford not to invest in a generation and the Government’s response will confirm whether Ministers are serious about education and those young people whose future prospects have been so compromised by this pandemic.
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