Cross-party MPs urge Education Secretary to announce Covid catch-up plan for students

20 May 2021

As the Education Policy Institute revealed it will take £13.5bn to make up for lost learning, a cross-party group of MPs have written to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson urging him to combat the severe effects the pandemic has had on teaching and learning in colleges.

The letter, undersigned by Peter Aldous MP, Chair of the APPG on Further Education and Lifelong Learning and other members of the Group including The Rt Hon. the Lord Blunkett, The Rt Hon. the Baroness Garden of Frognal, Stephen Farry MP, and Emma Hardy MP, sets out the three vital decisions needed from government to avoid a lost generation and ensure colleges have the resources they need to aid the recovery:

  1. Reverse the ESFA’s decision to claw back Adult Education Budget funding from institutions that have not met 90% of delivery targets for the 2020/2021 academic year -  instead the Department for Education should take a business case approach, allowing colleges to set out where and why they haven’t been able to deliver 90 per cent of their AEB provision, and for concessions to be made on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Give students leaving college a fully funded extra year of study if they need it - This would be through a simple, flexible fund, as set out by AoC's Education Recovery Plan and EPI's Education and Resilience report.
  3. Provide colleges with targeted support for the most disadvantaged learners through a 16-19 student premium, just like the pupil premium in schools - so more students who need it can benefit from support tailored to their needs. 

The letter comes as the Government's ambitions for the further education sector were set out in Skills and Post-16 Education Bill within the Queen's Speech this week. The APPG members state that these shorter-term decisions are crucial to support the Government’s overarching goals on skills reform, delivering what young people and adult learners deserve and ecomonic recovery. 

The full letter is available here