The Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges across the entire education system. Throughout, we have acted swiftly to help minimise the impact on pupils’ education and provided extensive support for schools, colleges and early years settings.
Here are the key education milestones from the pandemic.
In response to the pandemic, restrictions were announced by the Education Secretary.
This meant most children were going to be educated at home with schools remaining open to vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.
This was different to the approach taken in some countries like Italy, France and Germany where schools closed to all pupils, regardless of their circumstances.
At a press conference the Education Secretary set out his commitment to making sure all pupils could go back to attending school as soon as it was safe to do so. He said:
At the same time, it was announced that vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils would receive free laptops to help them learn from home.
The Oak National Academy – an online learning platform delivering lessons that schools could make available to their pupils - was launched. To support remote education, the department made £4.84 million available for Oak. The funding supported Oak to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception up to Year 11.
Since then, over 128 million Oak lessons have been viewed by pupils across the country.
As part of the Prime Minister’s virtual summit on hidden harms, the Education Secretary announced £6.5 million to involve more than 150 schools in a project that will place social workers at the heart of schools.
Part of a wider funding package of nearly £10 million to boost the educational outcomes of vulnerable children, social workers have been able to support teaching staff in identifying the children most at risk throughout the pandemic.
Schools, colleges and nurseries began to reopen. This phased reopening meant, as the Education Secretary promised, more pupils were able to access face-to-face education.
As a result, 1.6m pupils attended school and college by the end of June.
The Prime Minister and the Education Secretary announced the £1bn Covid Catch Up plan to tackle lost learning time. This included a £650 million catch up premium for the academic year for 2020 to help schools support all pupils.
Since then, we have gone on to set out exactly what this will mean in practice – with young people getting free tutoring, holiday clubs and much more.
On 15 September, 99.9% of schools reopened their doors following the summer holidays.
On 19 November the Department launched the £350 million National Tutoring Programme, a landmark government funded, sector-led initiative designed to support schools and address the impact of Covid-19 on pupils’ progress and learning.
Since its launch, over 227,000 pupils have been enrolled to receive tutoring, and over 25,000 tutors are supporting pupils across England.
The Department met its commitment of delivering 500,000 laptops to pupils by Christmas – while setting out its intention to deliver more than 1million in total.
Based on the latest scientific data, new restrictions were announced. This meant most pupils returned to home schooling.
As in the first period of restrictions, schools remained open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers. Unlike the first period of restrictions nurseries remained open.
The following day, the Education Secretary announced that it was no longer fair for exams to go ahead as planned – 6 months ahead of when they were due to be taken.
The total number of laptops delivered was taller than Mount Everest, heavier than almost 200 elephants and enough for every person in Liverpool and Leicester combined as the Government hailed the delivery over one million devices to those who needed them most.
The Government announced a further £700 million of catch up funding – taking the total to £1.7 billion to support children in education across the country.
It was also announced that students would receive grades determined by teachers, and will only be assessed on what they have been taught, not what they may have missed.
In March, schools across England reopened their doors to their remaining pupils and mass testing to keep settings safe began. Since then, more than 40 million tests have been conducted.
By 16March, 99.9% of schools had reopened along with 94% of primary pupils and 89% of secondary pupils in school in attendance.
The department announced a huge boost for tutoring in the latest step of the government’s education recovery plan.
This expansion included: £1 billion for the National Tutoring Programme to support up to 6 million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged school children; a further £250 million to help give 500,000 teachers world-leading training; £400 million to help give early years practitioners and 500,000 school teachers across the country training and support and; funding for schools and colleges to give some year 13 students the option to repeat their final year.
The latest announcement builds on the £1.7 billion already announced to help children catch up on what they missed during the pandemic, which includes summer schools and mental health support, bringing total investment to over £3 billion.
Education has remained a national priority for the Government throughout the pandemic and we have continued to provide support to build back better. For all of our support and how are policies have affected Education, please visit the Education Hub.