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Education

We’re spending £9billion to make sure education changes every child’s life

FOR kids across the country, the Easter break will be their last chance to let off steam before the summer term gets under way.

For the first time in two years, summer exams will proceed as normal, with pupils preparing to sit the full GCSE, A-level and vocational exam series.

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For kids across the country, the Easter break will be their last chance to let off steam before the summer term gets under way
Nadhim Zahawi is the UK Education Secretary

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Nadhim Zahawi is the UK Education Secretary

I know that pupils who are preparing for these will have been working their socks off and looking forward to showing what they can do.

And I hope parents will take comfort from the fact that schools are open, and exams are taking place again.

But we must not bury our heads in the sand.

Children have had to manage a great deal of disruption to their education over the past two years, as we grappled with the Covid pandemic.

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There has been a huge recovery program in place since the pandemic first broke, and the Government has put a serious amount of funding behind it.

For the year ahead, schools funding will increase by £ 4billion compared to last year.

That’s a massive boost of seven per cent per pupil in cash terms, which is going to help schools cope with wider cost pressures, including rising energy prices.

We’re also spending nearly £ 5billion on recovery. This will include delivering more and better-quality teacher training.

Every child deserves a great teacher, and we are lucky to have so many talented, committed teachers in our schools.

But I’m not shy about pushing for more – we need an excellent, inspiring teacher in every single classroom, and I won’t accept any excuses for that not being the case.

That is what every child deserves, and it is what I am striving to deliver.

We are also focusing on improving language skills in toddlers, more teaching time for 16- to 19-year-olds and rolling out a massive tutoring program for children who are at risk of falling behind in their studies.

I have made a commitment to all mums and dads. I’ve called it my Parent Pledge – if your child falls behind in English or maths, regardless of their school and regardless of their postcode, your child will receive tailored support to help them get back on track.

One of the key ways we are doing this is through tutoring, and more than one million tutoring courses have already been started by children who need them.

Tutoring was once something only a minority of children could enjoy, mainly because of the cost. We have made it freely available for millions of children who can benefit.

What makes tutoring such a game-changer is that we know it works because we have the data to prove it.

Evidence suggests that small group tuition can boost progress by an average of two months in secondary schools and four months in primary schools.

I have made a commitment to all mums and dads. I’ve called it my Parent Pledge – if your child falls behind in English or maths, regardless of their school and regardless of their postcode, your child will receive tailored support to help them get back on track.

So I urge all Sun on Sunday readers with children in school to check with their kids’ teachers to see if they have signed up for the National Tutoring Program.

We expect up to six million tutoring courses will be started by 2024.

When you lose as much learning time as many of our kids have during the pandemic, we should be doing everything we can to make sure they are in school for a full day.

This is why our new Schools White Paper sets a minimum for the length of the school week of 32½ hours. It’s the same as saying 9am to 3.30pm every day.

Your local school probably already delivers this but there are thousands – too many, in my view – that don’t.

Leveling up is all about making the system fairer for everyone, and there is nothing remotely fair about one child getting 20 minutes’ less teaching per day.

Although 20 minutes might not sound like a big deal, over the course of a year it can add up to a whopping disadvantage, a total of two weeks of lost time in a year.

I won’t accept your child being short-changed like that.

I want to spread brilliance throughout the country.

Excellence must be the expectation, not the exception.

Although 20 minutes might not sound like a big deal, over the course of a year it can add up to a whopping disadvantage, a total of two weeks of lost time in a year.

For that to be the case, every parent needs the assurance that their child is going to get the attention and the support they deserve.

And it means that we need our brilliant teachers to do what they do best – focus on improving young people’s chances and giving them the best possible experience in the classroom.

When I visit schools all over the country I am amazed by the talent, enthusiasm and energy that is on display.

The next Steve Jobs, the next JK Rowling, the next Margaret Thatcher – they are all sitting right there in our classrooms.

I want teachers to keep working with me so that together we can deliver on the unlimited potential of the next generation and allow them to flourish.

As a young boy arriving in this country from Iraq without a word of English, education transformed my life.

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Now I am determined that it will do the same for others. Our children deserve the very best, and we must work together to get this right.

Failure is not an option.

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