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Johnson Pledges $1.2 Billion of Catch-Up Schooling for U.K. Kids

imageStock Markets13 hours ago (Jun 18, 2020 07:18PM ET)

(C) Bloomberg. Boris Johnson, U.K. prime minister, arrives back at number 10 Downing Street after making a statement on ‘Global Britain’ in London, U.K., on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Johnson bowed to pressure to provide free meals for Britain’s poorest children over the summer after a campaign led by England soccer star Marcus Rashford.

(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a $1.2 billion package to help U.K. children catch up on schooling they missed during the coronavirus lockdown.

State primary and secondary schools will be able to draw on 650 million pounds of funding, with school principals to decide on how it’s spent, Johnson’s office said in an emailed statement, adding that small group tuition should be the favored intervention. A separate 350 million-pound fund aims to pay for tutoring for as many as 2 million of the most disadvantaged children.

Schools have been shut since March 20, and the government is trying to counter criticism after being forced to abandon plans to get all primary school children to return before the summer holidays. That’s led to education experts saying a generation of children risks falling behind, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds with limited access to the internet and computers.

“I am determined to do everything I can to get all children back in school from September,” Johnson said. “We will bring forward plans on how this will happen as soon as possible.”

Earlier in the week, the prime minister sought to deflect the blame to the opposition Labour Party and teaching unions, repeatedly asking Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer to say whether he thought it was safe for children to return to classes.

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said last week that over 70% of primary schools had begun taking pupils back from select year groups. But there’s still no fixed date for the return of all year groups, and with the virus still infecting more than 1,000 people a day, many parents are reluctant to send their children back to schools.

Unions and local education authorities have complained of a lack of consultation over the wider reopening of schools, which have provided face-to-face teaching for the children of key workers and remote learning materials for those staying at home during lockdown. They said the government’s plans for re-opening were unworkable and it would be impossible to return to full school rolls while keeping children two meters apart, in line with government guidelines.

(C)2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Johnson Pledges $1.2 Billion of Catch-Up Schooling for U.K. Kids

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