Commenting on Is the Catch-up programme fit for purpose?, a new report from the House of Commons Education Committee, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"This is a serious warning from the Education Committee that if Government doesn’t provide enough support for disadvantaged young people, they risk baking in the deepening inequalities between disadvantaged children and their better off peers.

"There is a role for tutoring because so many extra students need individual attention due to Covid-19 disruption, but the catch-up funding should have been allocated directly to schools and colleges not via Randstad. 

"The view of teachers is that they need much more opportunity for children to have time in small groups and more one-on-one time and this requires extra qualified teachers and more curriculum flexibility than the Department for Education has thus far allowed. 

"It’s common sense that tutoring programmes should be led by schools and so it is good to see MPs record that teachers and school staff know their pupils and what interventions are likely to bring the most benefit. DfE needs to heed this and allocate the funding to school budgets in a way that is linked to numbers of children eligible for Free School Meals. 

"Teachers identify counselling and mental health support as key elements in better supporting pupil attendance, so it is essential government fast tracks this as a priority issue. 

"Covid-19 exacerbated problems that were already there for disadvantaged children. The Government must now learn its lesson, get its house in order and start listening to the education profession on what is needed for the long term to ensure that no child is left behind."