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Education insights: Covid catch-up plan announced, concerns over children’s play raised and calls for gender stereotypes to be tackled within the classroom

In a week where the UK Government’s Covid catch-up plan for schools has dominated education news, we explore how they look to address the issues caused by the pandemic for students. We also look at a gap in apprenticeship information from schools and how the government is encouraging employers to take on new apprentices.

Covid catch-up plan offers 100m hours of tuition to pupils in England

This week, post-pandemic catch-up plans for schools were unveiled. The £1.4bn programme looks to offer an extra 100m hours of tuition and provision for extra training and support for teachers. However, the government faced immediate criticism of the programme which breaks down to just £50 extra per pupil, per year. There was unanimity from unions that the sums were insufficient, with the National Education union calling them “inadequate and incomplete”. As a result, the Prime Minister has said there will be more money “coming down the track”. We hope to see further funding appointed to ensure all students are supported post-pandemic.    

New apprenticeship cash boost launched in England

Employers of all sizes in England can now apply for extra funding to help them take on new apprentices. Businesses can claim £3000 for each new apprentice hired from 1 April until 30 September in the latest drive to revolutionise the skills and training offered across the country. The cash incentive is designed to help more employers invest in the skilled workforce they need for the future, as well as widening the opportunities that are available for young people. Here at Hopscotch, it’s encouraging to see more incentives being introduced to encourage businesses to take on apprentices as we know through our work with the Gatsby Foundation, how important they are in providing young people the opportunity to learn valuable skills which can be used to gain jobs in a wide range of exciting sectors.

Baker Clause provision still inconsistent in schools, UCAS warns

Despite the government’s new cash initiative to boost apprenticeship numbers, UCAS has warned that the Baker Clause – which should guarantee secondary schools students access to a range of education and training provider information – is still not being implemented consistently. The university admissions service has found that only 26 per cent of students agree that it is “easy” to access information about apprenticeships – compared to 73 per cent when it comes to higher education. In addition, a recent UCAS report details findings that only a third of students reported receiving their legal entitlement to information from apprenticeship providers or further education colleges. We hope that action will be taken to ensure all young people are given the information needed to understand the choices they have when deciding which further education route to pursue.

Calls for primary schools to tackle gender stereotypes

In a letter to the education secretary in England, various groups including Girlguiding UK, the Fawcett Society and the National Education Union are calling on the government to address the issue of gender stereotypes in primary schools. The letter states that the curriculum, books, and language used in schools reinforce ideas of how girls and boys should look and behave. Campaigners say that stereotypes limit children’s aspirations and that schools should “actively challenge gender stereotypes” from an early age before they become ingrained. We look forward to seeing the government’s response to this letter and how it plans to address gender stereotypes in the classroom.

Children’s play funding missing from Covid catch-up plans

More concerns have been raised in response to the governments post-pandemic catch-up plans. Campaigners and experts have said that supporting children’s wellbeing and encouraging play must be central to the plans and is currently lacking. The post pandemic catch-up plans instead focus on increasing lesson time which has left campaigners for child’s play “very concerned”. Anita Grant, the chair of Play England, said the government needs to follow other countries in recognising the “deep need” for children to be able to “interact with peers and engage with the world around them for their health and wellbeing with play-focused funding”.  After a year without much social interaction, it is no surprise that children’s play needs to be prioritised to help with their social development and wellbeing.

About the author

Lizzie Ferris

Lizzie has a first-class BA Honours in English Language from Sheffield Hallam University. She has spent over 6 years volunteering and working with young people and is passionate about making a positive impact in young people’s lives.

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