£13.5 billion needed to cover education recovery, says EPI

A new report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) finds that a three-year funding package totalling £13.5bn will be required by the government to reverse the damage to pupils’ learning as a result of the pandemic.

The government has committed £1.7bn in short-term catch-up funding to support pupils in England with disruption to their education. A comprehensive, long-term education recovery plan is expected to be unveiled soon.

The EPI report draws on its latest research on lost learning carried out for the Department for Education (DfE), along with economic modelling on the long-run impact of the pandemic on young people’s employment and life chances, and a review of the most effective policies in supporting pupils’ attainment and wellbeing.

To reverse months of lost learning and prevent total lost future earnings for pupils running into the tens of billions, the research shows that the government will need to put in place an ambitious, multi-year programme of support.

Policies which EPI is calling on the government to implement include extended school hours for social and academic activities, additional Pupil Premium funding, summer wellbeing programmes, more incentives for teachers to work in “challenging areas”, further mental health support in schools and an option for some pupils to retake the year.  

The series of education interventions total £13.5bn over the course of this Parliament and taken together, would seek to reverse the lost learning seen by pupils since March 2020. The package compares with the DfE’s annual schools budget for England of £48bn.

While regaining months of lost academic progress must be the immediate priority, the report argues that if implemented effectively, such interventions should be retained beyond the three-year period to address pre-existing inequalities in education and improve outcomes.

EPI research shows that prior to the pandemic, disadvantaged pupils were already 18 months of learning behind their more affluent peers by the time they took their GCSEs – with that attainment gap already starting to widen.  

The retention of these policies should also be met with further investment beyond schools – in wider children’s services and mental health services; supported by an urgent child poverty strategy.

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