OPINION: My fury at prime minister's hollow promise on school catch-up funds

Boris Johnson doesn't seem interested in spending the same amount on education per pupil as other countries do says Ruth

Boris Johnson doesn't seem interested in spending the same amount on education per pupil as other countries do, says Ruth Davies - Credit: PA

Yet again prime minister Boris Johnson has over delivered on promise but under delivered with action. 

Yet again children are the ones who fall short and yet again I’m furious about it! 

His gesture politics talked a good talk when it came to putting a Covid catch up plan in place for education but gesture was all it was.

When it doesn’t affect him - his own education and that of his children were conducted within privately educated facilities where money can buy you just about anything, even a job running the country - he’s simply not that bothered it seems.

A promised plan whittled down by 90% per pupil goes to show where Johnson really lies when it comes to bringing our children up to where they deserve to be educationally; on the side of the 'haves' while the 'have nots' can take their chances. Again. 

And frankly when you 'have not' it’s very hard to gain while all the time the people who already 'have' quite substantially manage to walk through all the open doors with ease. A perpetuating cycle of keeping the rich, rich and the poor, poor while deflecting, by clapping on a doorstep somewhere, to say “we” are cared about! If you clap loud enough it must be true, huh?

Then there’s the proof in public school semolina pudding with inarguable facts and as Sir Kevan Collins, appointed only in February as the catch-up tsar, resigned his position a mere four months into his role due to the woefully inadequate offerings from our government, the facts are coming in as thick and fast as school semolina tends to be - rather inedible actually. 

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The former government adviser felt he had no choice but to quit after describing the education funding package as falling “far short of what is needed” to aid the pandemic recovery. He says “a half hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils” and I stand by him. 

How could he align himself with a package offering just £1.4bn (a pitiful £50 per pupil) when he has called for £15bn plus 100 extra teaching hours per child being the minimum needed to do the same job. Even the US is spending £1,600 per pupil, the Netherlands £2,500 – figures which far exceed even our promised £500 let alone the token we’ve been left with. Perhaps spending £10bn on Royal yachts and funds into British Defence is more important to the investors of the Conservative government?

Maybe investors would think twice about decorating the PM’s residences if we, shock horror, start to not just care about, but pour funding into those who are already lacking and most in need.

Eighteen months of disrupted education in order to help repair the damage done has to be taken seriously but of course, classism rides again as they try to pull the wool over our eyes.

Education minister Gavin Williamson says “we are doing all we can” but that’s quite obviously not true.

An already under way tutoring system, where the school has to foot 25% of the bill anyway, is to be enormously expanded he says but I wonder if he thinks we don’t have brain cells as he spouts this truck.

With all this smoke and mirrors coming from the Conservatives while Labour is vowing to force a vote over the governments “totally insufficient” plans to help pupils catch up in an urgent need for a rethink of the programme which sits just fine on Johnson’s shoulders, even senior Tories are calling for a wider scope of ways to ensure children’s educational needs are being met in the wake of the pandemic.

Labour’s planned embarrassment of the government sits more in line with Collins’ prediction of the true sum needed to apply extra teachers, extra teaching hours and more resources into this fundamental right all children, whatever their family finances, deserve. We voted for this. For a government who will employ an advisor to make educated recommendations then completely ignores the advice. I mean, what’s new?

When I’m asked about which way I vote and why, by my children, I always say I make my choices based on the greater good.

It’s all too easy to make decisions on how we may personally gain but to be a truly functioning society we must stop looking within our own four walls, even if they are painted gold, and make decisions which benefit the majority.

Something Johnson is seemingly incapable of but something I won’t stop banging the drum about because as a mother of small children who are in a very privileged position themselves, I see what they have lost and know there are others far less fortunate who need the drum being beaten on their behalf as loudly as humanly possible. 

We have to look after each other.

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk