2nd June 2021

EPI responds to the government’s new education recovery package

Today the government has unveiled a £1.4bn package to address pandemic learning loss, including £1bn allocated over three years to support pupils through additional tutoring.

The Education Policy Institute finds that the new education recovery package of £1.4bn amounts to around £50 extra per pupil per year – a fraction of the level of funding required to reverse learning loss seen by pupils since March 2020.

Two weeks ago, EPI published research findings which showed that a three-year package totalling £13.5bn will be required from the government to undo the damage to pupils’ learning as a result of the pandemic.

Per pupil, this level of funding required to reverse pupil learning losses is ten times higher (£500 per pupil per year) than that which the government has set out today.

Even after factoring in education recovery funding prior to today’s announcement, EPI finds that the total level of funding committed for England over four years is £310 per pupil, which compares to equivalent total funding of £1,600 per pupil in the US, and £2,500 per pupil in the Netherlands.

Commenting on today’s recovery proposals, Jon Andrews, Head of Analysis at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said:

“At £50 per pupil, our analysis shows that today’s funding package is a long way off what is required to remedy the lost learning seen by pupils over the last year. This was an opportunity for the government to offer significant investment in a range of evidence-based interventions that would help protect against long-run negative impacts to young people’s education and wellbeing. They have decided not to take that opportunity.

“Today’s proposals are an inadequate response to the challenge the country is facing with young people’s education, wellbeing, and mental health.”

David Laws, Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“The government’s education recovery package does not remotely match the scale of lost learning and is unlikely to be enough to support children to catch up on the many months of lost learning that most have suffered

“It appears that the government’s own Education Recovery Commissioner recommended a package of policies that would have delivered ten times the financial support unveiled today – £15bn, instead of the £1.4bn announced. 

“It is unclear why the government has chosen to ignore the evidence of how much it would cost to recover lost learning, but there must now be a real concern that learning loss will not be recovered and that the most disadvantaged pupils will fall permanently behind the rest.

“In the longer term, the unmitigated learning losses could cause lower productivity, lower earnings, and lower tax revenues – so skimping on a properly funded recovery package will prove to be a false economy.”

What is required to reverse learning loss vs. what the government’s package offers

  • Today’s additional funding of £1.4bn over three years to support pupils in England amounts to around £50 per pupil per year.
  • Earlier this month, EPI published analysis which showed that a three-year funding package totalling £13.5bn will be required to reverse the damage to pupils’ learning as a result of the pandemic. The EPI study was the first to model the impact of lost learning and set out a series of fully costed, evidence-based, proposals for government. 
  • EPI’s proposed package of £13.5bn over three years (£13bn just for schools and post-16 education), would allocate around £500 per pupil per year – ten times the level of funding that the government has committed to today.
  • EPI’s proposals for education recovery, which are based on its latest learning loss research for the Department for Education (DfE), can be read here.
  • Further EPI research for the DfE on pupil learning loss will be published shortly.


How government funding for education recovery compares to other countries’ programmes

  • The government’s overall funding for education catch-up in England now totals £3.1bn since the beginning of the pandemic (£1.7bn already announced since 2020, plus today’s extra funding of £1.4bn).
  • When examining the overall level of government funding for education recovery, this is found to amount to around £310 per pupil in total over four years. 
  • The total level of funding committed to date by the government also falls short of the investment in education recovery seen in other nations. The government’s total of £310 per pupil over four years for England compares to the equivalent funding of £1,600 per pupil to support education recovery in the United States, and £2,500 per pupil in the Netherlands.