The Liberal Democrats have called for a £30 catch-up voucher for every day missed by primary and secondary school students for covid-related absence.
At a rate of covid-related absence of 120,724 a week, as was seen in the most recent data, this scheme would cost £3.6 million a week – just over 1% of the Government’s initial National Tutoring Programme catch-up fund.
The voucher would be given to the parents of all pupils in state-funded schools to help cope with the difficulties of remote learning. It comes as the Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said that it could be impossible to avoid the return of remote learning as the Omicron variant causes havoc for teachers, pupils and parents on the day schools return.
Studies from the Education Policy Institute have shown that the lost lifetime earnings across a million school children in the UK from lost learning during the pandemic could amount to £46,000 each.
Their research also shows that lost lifetime earnings across the 10 million school children in the UK from lost learning during the pandemic could impact the economy by some £463bn in a worst case scenario.
The Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson has slammed the government as incompetent for their failure to put a plan in place as schools return, and is proposing a catch-up voucher scheme for every pupil who cannot attend school this term due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The vouchers could be spent on catch-up tutoring to make up for lost learning, with schools being able to advise parents on what would most benefit their children.
Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said: “The Omicron variant is without doubt going to wreak havoc as our schools return this week and the Government has left schools woefully underprepared to deal with the chaos this will cause pupils, parents and teachers alike.
“No child should be left behind as we enter a time of unprecedented staff absences and case rates. Funding catch-up vouchers would empower parents to restore their children’s education, which the Conservatives have demonstrated time and again is not their priority.
“From a botched catch-up package to a complete failure on getting air purifiers into schools, the Government must act radically so children are given the opportunity to catch up on the education they are missing due to the Conservatives’ incompetence.”