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Government must prioritise services to tackle inequality to ensure Covid recovery, says NAHT

Commenting on a new report by the Local Government Association (LGA) on education recovery, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“As this report points out, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a greater impact on some children than others. The challenge of recovery is not an equal one.

“Disadvantage and attainment gaps existed before the pandemic, and it is those children schools were most worried about before that are in greatest need of support now. Covid has both highlighted and exacerbated the huge problem of poverty and inequality in our country.

“Children are returning to school needing not just academic help, but a wide range of pastoral, mental health and wellbeing support too.

“Unfortunately a simple return to ‘normal’ isn’t going to solve things, and it isn’t going to be a quick job. It will take a considerable long-term investment of time, money, energy and resources, which the government must recognise and provide.

“And while education recovery can and must be led by education experts, the issues that underpin inequality reach far beyond the school gates and exist throughout the communities that schools serve.

“Poverty and disadvantage, poor wellbeing, SEND, discrimination and inequality are the fundamental issues creating disadvantage. These must be addressed by government if we are to make a real difference in the future.

“This will require the support of well-integrated and well-funded services across the whole of a child’s life. Sadly, these services have been seriously damaged by a decade of austerity.

“Schools cannot pick up the pieces alone. Inequality will remain entrenched in the UK unless the government takes urgent action and prioritises all the services needed to help those children that most need it.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

Email : press.office@naht.org.uk