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140 organisations state: Government needs to prioritise children following pandemic

Supporting babies, children and young people to recover from the impact of the pandemic is still not a priority for government investment, a coalition of organisations has warned.

The resignation of Sir Kevan Collins as education recovery commissioner highlights the “disturbing truth” that children are not a priority, said the coalition which includes NCB, The National Education Union, BASW, YoungMinds, Barnardo’s and NSPCC, and the government must produce a recovery and rebuild plan which is designed to enable children to thrive.

“We are calling on the government to embrace a new vision of childhood to support children, young people and their families to recover to recover from the impact of COVID-19. The voices of children, young people and their families must be at the heart of the recovery and rebuild process, and there must be renewed investment in services and the workforce they rely on,” said a statement from the coalition.

The move comes just a week after the education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins resigned from his post saying the funding in place for the pupils catching up on their education was not sufficient.

Last week the government announced that a total of £1.4 billion is being invested, including £1 billion to support up to 6 million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged school children, as well as an expansion of the 16-19 tuition fund, targeting key subjects such as maths and English.

The government stated that £1.7 billion has already been 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.

However, the coalition warns that even prior to the pandemic:

  • Child poverty was rising
  • School budgets were under pressure
  • There were long waiting lists for mental health services
  • Services supporting families and protecting children from abuse were at breaking point.

The recovery plan should mean action and investment across Whitehall and local government including:

  • Funding for early help services and public health
  • Supporting integrated working
  • Dedicated financial support for children
  • More support for early years settings and schools
  • Unprecedented investment in children’s mental health.

This should be accompanied by a commitment to children with additional challenges such as unaccompanied asylum seeking children, disabled children, victims of abuse and minority communities.

“It’s now time for the nation to put children at the heart of plans for its future, to stop childhoods being disrupted, life chances being derailed, and economic growth being diminished,” the statement concluded.

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