The Big Catch Up
Children and young people across the country have experienced unprecedented disruption to their education as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). Those from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds will be among those hardest hit. The aggregate impact of lost time in education will be substantial, and the scale of our response must match the scale of the challenge.
We know that we have the professional knowledge and expertise in the education system to ensure that children and young people recover and get back on track. Returning to normal educational routines as quickly as possible will be critical to our national recovery, and the government intends for schools and colleges to fully open in September.
The government has announced £1 billion of funding to support children and young people to catch up. This includes a one-off universal £650 million catch-up premium for the 2020 to 2021 academic year to ensure that schools have the support they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time.
Although all children have had their education disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it is likely that disadvantaged and vulnerable groups will have been hardest hit. That is why, alongside the universal catch-up premium, we are launching a £350 million National Tutoring Programme to provide additional, targeted support for those children and young people who need the most help.
The £650 million of universal catch-up premium funding will be available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision. It will cover:
- primary, middle, secondary and all through local authority-maintained schools, academies and free schools
- local authority-maintained special schools
- special academies and free schools
- non maintained special schools
- pupil referral units
- alternative provision (AP) academies and free schools
- local authority-maintained and academy hospital schools
- local authorities for SEND pupils they place in independent special settings
We will provide funding to local authorities for pupils with education, health and care (EHC) plans who are educated in independent special schools based on the number of such pupils in their area.
Schools’ allocations will be calculated on a per pupil basis, providing each mainstream school with a total of £80 for each pupil in years reception through to 11.
This funding will be provided in 3 tranches. We have now made the first payments. Full details of the allocations and conditions of grant can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19) catch-up premium: provisional allocations.
Allocations are based on the latest available data on pupils in mainstream schools and high needs place numbers in special, AP, hospital schools and special schools not maintained by a local authority.
We will then distribute a second grant payment in early 2021, based on updated pupil and place data. For mainstream schools, we will use the 4 to 15 pupil headcount from the October 2020 census.
For special, AP and hospital schools, we will use:
- 2019 to 2020 academic year place numbers from the published local authority 2019 to 2020 financial year budget returns for local authority-maintained schools
- the published high needs place numbers for the 2020 to 2021 academic year for academies and special schools not maintained by a local authority
The second grant payment will also take account of the initial part payment made in autumn 2020 so that schools will receive a total of £46.67 per pupil or £140 per place across the first 2 payment rounds.
A further £33.33 per pupil or £100 per place will be paid during the summer term 2021.
Though funding has been calculated on a per pupil or per place basis, schools should use the sum available to them as a single total from which to prioritise support for pupils according to their need.
As the catch-up premium has been designed to mitigate the effects of the unique disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), the grant will only be available for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. It will not be added to schools’ baselines in calculating future years’ funding allocations.
Use of funds
Schools should use this funding for specific activities to support their pupils to catch up for lost teaching over the previous months, in line with the guidance on curriculum expectations for the next academic year.
Schools have the flexibility to spend their funding in the best way for their cohort and circumstances.
To support schools to make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a coronavirus (COVID-19) support guide for schools with evidence-based approaches to catch up for all students. Schools should use this document to help them direct their additional funding in the most effective way. This could include, for example:
- small group or one-to-one tuition (particularly through the National Tutoring Programme)
- summer programmes to help re-engage pupils or extra teaching capacity from September
Guidance to support the use of tuition will be published as part of wider National Tutoring Programme communications later in the summer.
To support schools to implement their catch-up plans effectively, EEF has published the school planning guide: 2020 to 2021. This will provide further guidance on how schools should implement catch-up strategies when they return in September and supporting case studies to highlight effective practice.
Accountability and monitoring
As with all government funding, school leaders must be able to account for how this money is being used to achieve our central goal of schools getting back on track and teaching a normal curriculum as quickly as possible.
Given their role in ensuring schools spend funding appropriately and in holding schools to account for educational performance, governors and trustees should scrutinise schools’ approaches to catch-up from September, including their plans for and use of catch-up funding. This should include consideration of whether schools are spending this funding in line with their catch-up priorities, and ensuring appropriate transparency for parents.
The guidance on full opening sets out that Ofsted will conduct a programme of non-graded visits to some schools during the autumn. During these visits, inspectors will discuss how the school is bringing pupils back into full-time education – this may include plans schools have to spend their catch-up funding.
Ofsted plans to resume routine inspections in January 2021, with the exact timing being kept under review. When routine inspections restart, Ofsted will make judgements about the quality of education being provided, and that will include how leaders are using their funding (including catch-up funding) to ensure the curriculum has a positive impact on all pupils.