Monday 7 December 2020 / 10:35 PM Wes Streeting

Labour warns Government failing generation of children as new analysis shows pupils will miss out on vital catch-up support 

Labour warns Government failing generation of children as new analysis shows pupils will miss out on vital catch-up support

  Today (Tuesday) Labour is warning that the Government risks failing a generation of children as new analysis shows just one in six pupils on Free School Meals, who are most likely to fall behind their peers, will benefit from programmes to help them catch-up on lost learning.

With 1 million children out of school last week, Labour is calling on the Government to bring forward its planned spending to help pupils catch up on lost learning.

Analysis by Labour shows that:

  • 1.1 million children on Free School Meals, who are most likely to fall behind their peers, will miss out on support from the National Tutoring Programme, when at full capacity.
  • Only half of the National Tutoring Programme has been allocated for spending this year, with the scheme now being stretched over two academic years.
  • Fewer than one in five of the promised mentors are in place as we near the end of the autumn term, with the rest not expected to be in place until Spring 2021; too late for many pupils sitting exams this year.

In addition to the National Tutoring Programme, the Government announced a one-off universal £650 million catch up premium for the 2020-2021 academic year ‘’to ensure that schools have the support they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time’’.

However, since the government cut funding to help schools cover the costs of making classrooms safe during the pandemic, there are concerns catch-up funding, which is not ring-fenced, is being used to plug holes in schools’ budgets as they struggle to meet these additional costs. Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister raised concerns with Nick Gibb in a Westminster Hall debate on Monday after more than 780,000 people signed petitions raising concerns about the Government’s handling of education during the coronavirus crisis.

Labour is calling for the Government to bring forward the £1 billion of promised catch up funding, including keeping its promise that the £350 million for the National Tutoring Programme will be available this academic year to ensure thousands of pupils who’ve been forced to miss school during the pandemic do not fall behind.

Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Schools, said:

“It is completely unacceptable that the Government’s plans will see the vast majority of pupils in most need of help unable to get additional tuition to make up for the learning they have lost.

“The Government is failing to support the children who need it the most, and breaking promises to parents and schools about the funding that will be available.

“Ministers must urgently get a grip, bring this additional funding forward, and ensure that no pupil misses out on the support they need.”


Notes to editors: 

  • In answer to WPQ 91881 the DfE said, ‘’it is expected that they [Tuition Partners] will support around 250,000 pupils over the academic year’’, equating to 17% of children eligible for FSM.

NTP Support

Total FSM eligible

% FSM eligible

Total FSM benefitting

Total FSM missing out

250,000 pupils

1,440,788 pupils




  • Labour analysis of spending outlined in answer to WPQ 91881 shows that only £191 million of the £350 million has been allocated, equating to 55%.



EEF – Delivery of NTP tuition partners


TF – recruit, train, place mentors


16-19 tuition fund


Reception oral language skills


188 mentors



  • DfE’s answer to WPQ 116468, which asked whether the Coronavirus (COVID-19) catch-up premium funding is ring-fenced by schools for the provision of catch-up support, confirmed it was not:We expect schools to spend this funding on the additional activities required to support children and young people to catch up after the period of disruption to their education. We know that each school will have different needs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and schools should tailor the catch-up funding to their specific contexts, and towards the pupils who need it most. We trust our excellent school leaders to make the appropriate decisions for their students to ensure that this money is spent wisely.