LONDON — Britain risks failing young people with its “half-hearted” effort to bolster schools after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the former education recovery chief who resigned over the government’s funding announcement.
Kevan Collins criticized the 1.4 billion pound ($2 billion) education recovery fund that was announced Wednesday, describing it as a fraction of what is needed to meet the scale of the challenge.
Children across the U.K. lost an average of 115 days of classroom time during the pandemic, curtailing academic achievement and social development. Collins reportedly recommended that the government plow an extra 15 billion pounds into education over the next three years to help students catch up.
With the funding announced this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has pledged about 3.1 billion pounds to the education recovery effort, or about 400 pounds ($566) per pupil. That’s in contrast to the U.S., which has allocated the equivalent of 1,600 pounds ($2,265) per student, or the Netherlands, which has announced plans to spend over 2,500 pounds ($3,540) per student.
Central to Collins’ plan is a proposal to extend each school day an average of 30 minutes so children can get the extra academic help they need without sacrificing enrichment programs such as music and sports.