TEACHERS’ unions have welcomed an announcement that secondary schools will get extra cash to provide private tuition to more than 100,000 children who have fallen behind in reading and writing.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday confirmed plans for a new “catch-up premium” that will see secondary schools given £500 for each year seven child who arrives without basic English and maths skills.
The policy will have a significant impact in Yorkshire, where a higher proportion of children leave primary schools without basic reading and writing skills than anywhere else in the country.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Schools will welcome extra funding to support children who are struggling with literacy and numeracy. Evidence shows that well-focussed and targeted support helps children catch-up. It is important that the intervention is high quality and taught by qualified teachers.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, added: “Additional funds to help boost children’s learning at this key stage and in these critical subject areas of English and maths are very welcome indeed – although one could ask ‘Why wait until the end of primary to catch up’?”
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, questioned how the £55m-per-year cost had been found from departmental budgets.
“Whilst funding to support pupils’ needs is always to be welcomed, far more information on how this initiative is being funded is required,” he said. “The Department for Education (DfE) says the funding is from an ‘underspend’ in the DfE budget. At a time of severe cuts to education spending, how exactly has such a large underspend occurred – and in which area of the budget?
“For the sake of pupils and schools, let’s hope that this is not just another repackaging and recycling exercise which in reality makes little or no difference to pupils.”