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Education: Equality

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL782, tabled on 7 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Social Mobility Commission's report The road not taken: the drivers of course selection, published on 30 March, what steps they intend to take (1) to focus on educational inequalities up to age 16, and (2) to target specific disadvantaged groups.

Answered on

16 June 2021

Enabling every child, irrespective of their background, to realise their potential at school has been at the centre of this government’s education policy since 2010. We do not design education policy that exclusively targets specific groups of pupils, for example based on their ethnicity or gender. Our policies are aimed at improving the education of all disadvantaged children and young people, especially as we know that their education has been impacted most heavily by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In June 2020, as part of the £1 billion Covid catch up package, we announced £350 million to fund the National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged students for the academic years 2020/21 and 2021/22. There is extensive evidence that tutoring is one of the most effective ways to accelerate pupil progress, and we want to extend this opportunity to disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. The programme provides additional, targeted support for those children and young people who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of school closures. Teachers and school leaders should exercise professional judgement when identifying which pupils would benefit most from this additional support. This investment was announced in tandem with the £650 million Catch-Up Premium, additional funding for all schools to support education recovery in academic year 2020/21.

On 24 February 2021, we announced a £700 million Education Recovery package, building on the £1 billion from last year. As well as a range of measures to support all pupils to recover lost learning, the package includes significant funding aimed at addressing the needs of disadvantaged pupils. This includes a new one-off £302 million Recovery Premium, which includes £22 million to scale up proven approaches, for state funded schools in the 2021/22 academic year. This grant will further support pupils who need it most. Allocations will reflect disadvantage funding eligibility and will have additional weighting applied to specialist settings, recognising the significantly higher per-pupil costs they face.

In addition to this we announced a further recovery package on 2 June 2021, which provides an additional £1.4 billion to support education recovery for children aged 2 to 19 in schools, colleges and early years settings. It focuses on high quality tutoring and great teaching, where the evidence shows that this investment will have the greatest immediate impact on disadvantaged children.

The government has also invested over £400 million to support vulnerable children in England to continue their education at home. To date, over 1.3 million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers.

The ongoing provision of Pupil Premium funding, which is worth £2.5 billion this financial year, aims to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. School leaders use this extra funding to tailor their support, based on the needs of their disadvantaged pupils, and invest in proven practice to improve outcomes, such as that showcased in resources published by the Education Endowment Foundation.