More than 200,000 kids will leave primary school without being able to read properly after missing class during lockdown
UNPUBLISHED government figures have revealed a staggering 200,000 pupils moving from primary to secondary school this autumn will not be able to read properly.
It comes after millions of pupils were forced to be taught at home for the majority of the last year.
The findings show the impact of lockdown on learning, with the number of children struggling with literacy rising by 30,000 over the past year, according to The Times.
Now, Boris Johnson will use a key speech to launch a “four-year emergency” plan to help disadvantaged children catch up.
Senior government sources said the problem was the prime minister’s top priority after the coronavirus vaccination programme and would remain a central focus until the next election.
They said: “Making sure children can read and write properly and have the skills they need to prosper is the Prime Minister’s central focus.
“We know coronavirus has wreaked enormous damage to people’s lives.
“We have to be honest about what happens next.”
Downing Street invested £1 billion in a catch-up fund in June to pay for extra tutoring but a National Audit Office report found that less than half of the pupils who have started to receive tuition are from poor families.
Last week Johnson met sir Kevan Collins, who is leading a review into how the pandiemc has affected kids.
According to sources Collins is working on a plan to have a “citizen army” of teachers, former teachers and students to help those who have fallen behind.
A report by the children’s commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, found that about 840 million days of in-person schooling, equal to roughly 19 weeks a pupil, had been lost since the start of the pandemic until March 8.
De Souza called last night for a “supercharged educational catchup”. She said: “We asked children to make a huge sacrifice to help control the virus and now we need to give them something back.”
Meanwhile Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is looking at proposals, including a five-term academic year, a shorter summer holiday and longer school days to help pupils catch up on learning.
Yesterday government advisors said kids in the UK could have to be vaccinated to keep schools open if Covid infections spike again.
In a huge boost for the fight against coronavirus, Pfizer said trials of its vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 showed 100 per cent efficacy and a strong immune response.
Vaccinating kids may help "keep things functioning normally across society", according to Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Prof Finn said decisions on jabbing kids "will come later in the summer", depending on "whether it's going to be necessary to immunise children as well in order to keep the virus under control.
"The important aspect of that for children is that we desperately want to keep schools open into the next academic year and avoid any further disruption to education."
Currently, only children at very high risk of severe infection are offered a jab.
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