The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Department for International Trade (Baroness Berridge) (Con)
My Lords, I repeat the thanks of the Government to Sir Kevan for his work. Actually, there is great scrutiny of this—this is the second opportunity that noble Lords have had to scrutinise it. I am so very grateful to the Private Notice Question procedure in this regard. In relation to his plan, tutoring and the teaching element were part of his recommendations, as part of an overall strategy. I assure the noble Baroness that the strategy is about evidence-based interventions, and it is clear from the information we have from Renaissance Learning that some students in autumn 2020 were, on average, behind by three months in maths and two months in reading. We know that months of catch-up can be done using tutoring as an intervention, whether that is one-on-one or small group. This is an evidence-based part of the strategy and has been part of the recovery package from the beginning, so it is important that it now has about £1 billion worth of funding and includes about 6 million interventions for children.
Noble Lords will have seen the Prime Minister’s comments that this will not be the last word. Obviously, recovery is for the lifetime of this Parliament and it will be part of the forthcoming spending review. Of course, there will be the analysis needed of any extension to the school day or timetable. At the moment, many schools have flexibility on the hours they have in the school day, but the impact on the workforce and all other details need to be taken into account. That is why there will be a consultation or review of that element of the package before any changes are made.
The noble Lord and the noble Baroness mentioned targeting. Throughout the pandemic, vulnerable children were offered a school place, and I think that was unusual across most jurisdictions. We did keep and see, with the work of teachers and outreach, increasing numbers of vulnerable children taking up those school places during the pandemic.
Well-being is obviously a key part of the recovery for children and young people; the noble Baroness outlined the social skills they have missed. As noble Lords will be aware, transition points are particularly important and can be very challenging at the best of times. That is why there is the summer schools programme —a £200 million pot of money—which around 80% of secondary schools have bid into to provide not just education but wider activities, physical exercise and well-being. Over 80% of secondary schools have applied to that pot to provide this provision for their forthcoming year 7 pupils.
I cannot remember the precise amount offhand, but there has been a significant planned investment into CAMHS—child and adolescent mental health services. There has been an investment of £17 million, announced during Mental Health Awareness Week, and one of £79 million, because we are of course aware of the rising demands on schools in relation to mental health, pastoral and bereavement issues at the moment. I spoke today to someone who had visited a large secondary school where, I think, 30 children had lost their parents. These are significant issues, and we are investing to enable over 7,800 schools to have a trained-up senior mental health lead within the school staff. We have been investing in that.
Of course, every year there is the pupil premium, and £2.5 billion has been put in through that this year. I do not think that one should underestimate the flexibility there has been. Although some of the money is targeted, we gave much of the £650 million universal catch-up premium to schools with flexibility so that they have been able to buy in extra pastoral support and do more enrichment activities. We are trying to get that balance between the targeted, and the £200 million that is for summer schools only, and the general school budget, as school leaders know more about the needs of their children.
On the NAO report, the pupil premium and children in tutoring, throughout the pandemic, because of its dynamic nature and employment issues, it was important that school leaders were allowed to classify children as vulnerable. That may be because they did not have the internet access that they should for remote learning, because of caring responsibilities or because of the situation at home. It is not possible to say that it was precisely 44% using the classic measures, but school leaders are using their best judgment. There can be all kinds of reasons why a child needs tutoring because of the totally unpredictable way that the pandemic has affected particular households, so we entrust school leaders to make those decisions. That is not to say that we do not analyse the statistics, but we are aware of the discretion that we must give school leaders.
Our focus in the department is on children. The raison d’être of what we are doing, day in, day out, is to try to enable children to catch up. It is a dynamic picture, as noble Lords are aware. We have now had three reports from Renaissance Learning. Noble Lords will have seen today the additional investment going into the north-west. It is only now, when the tsunami is, I hope, permanently retreating, that we will see the differential impact that the pandemic has had.
On the role of experts, the department is continually engaging with stakeholder groups and teachers, including the unions, school leaders, SEND experts and others, to get their views on what is needed to help children catch up.
On teacher training, there was in fact consideration of delaying the introduction of the early career framework in September, but there was a call from the teaching workforce that it should come in then. The early career framework is important, which is why we are investing in it and guaranteeing that, in the first two years, 10% of time is not in teaching and can be used for mentoring. In the first year, 5% of teaching time will not be in the classroom, so can be for mentoring. There was a desire for that to come in, as it is important.
With what has happened during the pandemic, the professional development of our teaching workforce may, in certain circumstances, have taken a back seat, with all the emergency provision that schools have had to make, such as standing up testing and so on. So it is time to invest in the workforce. The NPQs that we are suggesting are being seriously ramped up; the plan was 1,500 a year, but we are going to 30,000 next year and then to 60,000, so we are really investing in the workforce. In relation, for instance, to the demands made on designated safeguarding leads in our schools at the moment, the NPQ for middle and senior leaders is a very important part of supporting teachers. The evidence is there—it can make a difference of about half a grade at GCSE—that it is one of the single most important things that we can provide for high-quality teaching. Professional development generally, but not always, enhances the quality of teaching.
On pay, the noble Baroness is aware that, in September 2020, there was an average pay rise of 3.1% and a 5.5% uplift to the starting salary. We are still committed to introducing a starting salary of £30,000 but, as I said yesterday, we are in a fiscal situation that none of us would want, having had to borrow the amount that we did during the pandemic. Unfortunately, difficult decisions on funding have had to be made.
I am sure that this will not be the last time that I come to the Dispatch Box to answer questions on recovery funding. I pay tribute to the schools, most of which have just gone back, and all that is going on to help children recover from the effects of the pandemic, not just educationally but socially, emotionally and psychologically.