Ferrari News – For our kids’ sake, spend cash wisely, says NICK FERRARI | Nick Ferrari | Columnists | Comment
In many instances that will be people going back to the grindstone at jobs they hate for bosses they loathe. But they do it because it is hard-wired into all but the most feckless and irresponsible parents that we must provide for our kids. Which all makes the Government’s handling of last week’s spending announcement – on our children who have been denied a proper education for so long – so utterly puzzling. Before we get too deep into the detail, let me stress the cash demands made by the former “Education Recovery Commissioner” Sir Kevan Collins were absurdly over the top.
And the way Labour politicians and trade unions have jumped on the anti-government bandwagon should come as little surprise.
One of the most prominent roles Sir Kevan has enjoyed in a long career was as Chief Executive of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, not universally recognised as a bastion of conservative financial prudence.
He’d asked the Treasury to release an eye-watering £15billion-worth of cash to help students across all age groups to catch up.
When only £1.4billion was forth- coming he promptly quit. Describing the sum as a “joke” he said many in the sector believed “the Department of Education and Government are fundamentally failing kids”.
While putting this amount of cash solely towards tuition is plain nuts, let’s not forget £3billion has already been allocated, so the total kitty is a not inconsequential £4.4 billion.
Where the Government has got it so hopelessly wrong is how this new tranche will be spent.
Embattled Education Secretary Gavin Williamson spelt out precisely that the money would provide for millions of hours of extra tutoring. And that’s where this policy really comes unstuck.
How many children do you know who simply can’t wait to get to school on a day they know they’re going to get extra tuition?
Or who race home so they can get in front of their computers for extra maths or physics classes?
One teacher from Bromley in Kent who called in to my radio phone-in show last week explained it succinctly when he laid bare the failings of the tutoring system.
He said: “Tutors are paid irrespective of whether anyone turns up or not.
“The first week, not one pupil attended and the second week it was the two kids who were already the brightest in the school at the subject, but enjoyed it so much they just wanted more studying.”
Here’s what those billions should have been spent on. The average child has now lost around 115 days of schooling in class since the pandemic began. That is simply an amount no system can ever catch up with.
Instead, the Government should look to be more imaginative and constructive. State examinations can be reworked to take into account the large gaps left by such a lengthy absence, but it’s the damage to our children’s health, confidence and development that is so crucial.
That’s why emphasis should have been placed on sport and extra-curricular activities.
Backed into a corner, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there would be more cash “coming down the track”.
If that is the case, he MUST ensure it is spent wisely.