The objective was to provide clarity over future funding so hospitals and so on could focus on those preventable illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease, that are so costly to the NHS and nation.
It is also a principle that should also be applied to education if schools, colleges and universities are to be able to spend more time on their primary focus – equipping today’s young people with tomorrow’s skills – rather than being stymied by inadequate support for areas with below-average attainment.
Already Boris Johnson has signalled that the catch-up plan for schools is now, in the wake of the successful rolling out of Covid vaccines, the biggest policy challenge facing the Government because of its importance to the future of the economy. This stance is further borne out by the Education Policy Institute’s latest research on the North-South attainment gap and today’s conclusion that disadvantaged sixth form and college students are around three A-Level grades behind their more affluent peers.
It suggests extra funds should be targeted at disadvantaged 16 to 19-year-olds. Yet, while there’s merit to this, the policy of Opportunity Areas, pursued by Justine Greening when Education Secretary, has shown that all age-groups can benefit from additional teaching support and so on. This is a key lesson. If pupils learn the basics at an early stage, starting in primary school, they’re more likely to succeed as they proceed through the years to GCSEs, A-Levels and, ultimately, successful careers.
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