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Labour Launch Bid To Force Ministers To Publish Documents Behind Rejected School's Catch-Up Fund

Labour will ask for documents related to the education catch-up fund (PA)

3 min read

Labour will today use a Commons vote to attempt to force ministers to publish texts, emails and any other documents discussing their reasons for rejecting a £15bn education support package.

The move comes after the Prime Minister's catch-up tsar, Sir Kevan Collins, resigned earlier this month with a parting shot at the government's "half-hearted approach".

The adviser said he had been left with "no option" but to step down after just four months in the role following the announcement that just £1.4bn was being allocated for the school's recovery package.

Leaked documents showed Collins had urged ministers to invest around £15bn in the learning recovery fund, including recommendations that pupils be provided with 100 extra hours of teaching in a bid to address learning time lost during the pandemic.

Today Labour are expected to use a "humble address" in the Commons to force the Treasury and Department of Education to publish all documents, including emails and texts, related to the decision to so significantly scale-back the level of support.

If MPs back the move, it would mean Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and their officials will be forced to publicly reveal all their discussions around the plans.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson, said at the "very least" parents deserved to know the reasons for rejecting Collins' advice.

"There has been nothing but silence from the Chancellor since the government's own advisor resigned in protest at his recommendations being scrapped," she said."And there has been no reassurance for parents and children as to how the government will help support their wellbeing and development after such a difficult 15 months for their education, mental health and development.

"At the very least, we all deserve to know the reasons why the Chancellor rejected such a vital plan for our children's future, and unless he U-turns soon, blocking this investment could see our economy take a hit of hundreds of billions of pounds. It’s the ultimate false economy."

The move comes after fury from parents and education leaders who have claimed failing to put the full investment into education recovery could cost the UK economy as much as £420bn in the future.

In his resignation letter to the PM, Collins had said he was "concerned that the apparent savings offered by an incremental approach to recovery represent a false economy, as learning losses that are not addressed quickly and are likely to compound".

Collins added he did not believe it was “credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size”.

Meanwhile, Labour have announced their own recovery plans which closely align with Collins’ £15bn package, including further investment in sports and music teaching and extra resources to support education staff.

Phillipson added: "Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people vital for our economic recovery.”

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