Sir Kevan Collins, The Catch-up Tzar, Sheds Light

Sir Kevan Collins further explains his vision for the government’s multi-billion-pound Covid catch-up scheme.

Earlier this week, Sir Kevan Collins appeared at the Schools North East Curriculum Conference and spoke about the need to strengthen catch-up efforts with “billions” in government funding. He said the current £1.7 billion government catch-up funding was “nowhere near enough” and “does not do this job”.

The former chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation spoke of his support for tutoring initiatives. Collins said that schools will “hopefully” have the option to choose their own tutors in future. Schools in disadvantaged areas have the option to employ “academic mentors”, trained by Teach First. 

The Covid education recovery commissioner said: “We cannot let go of quality in tutoring, it’s really important…but there will be a new route in, hopefully, which will be schools choosing people to be verified and qualified – I know that’s been an issue.”

Collins believes schools should be leading this catch-up process.

He  also made suggestions that the  school day could be extended to boost learning as part of the catch-up plan. Collins claimed the longer day would go ahead so pupils could have a “broader range of experiences”, including the non-academic. He believed there has been an “erosion of playtime” in school and said he’d like to see greater significance placed on play in government catch-up plans.

When challenged on extending the school day, he said he would “never advocate” for teachers teaching longer days “without increasing the amount of pay that teachers receive”.

“And I think that should be all about teachers choosing to make that decision, never being forced to.”

“This isn’t about extending the school day by bolting something on, this is about creating new opportunities for a broader range of experiences, particularly the non-academic outcomes, the drama, the sport, the volunteering, all the things that create social interaction.”

He says that teachers should not be “forced” “to do any more for no more” as part of the Covid catch-up effort. He believes that he has “nothing to lose” by speaking his mind and part of his role as recovery commissioner is to “stop bad things happening or the wrong things happening, as well as encouraging people to do the right things”.

Collins added: “The great thing about it is: I will say it as it is. In my view, the recovery has to be early years setting, school and college-led. It can’t be top-down”.

“And that’s a kind of challenge I’m getting into – and I’ll talk to you openly about my challenges with government.”

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