Schools will reportedly be granted hundreds of millions of pounds for summer classes to help children who’ve fallen behind in their studies due to Covid-19 lockdown.
The measure is one of three points outlined in a plan by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for pupils who have missed out on education, according to The Sunday Times.
Schools will also be urged to hire freelancers or pay staff more to extend shifts outside working hours so struggling pupils can be adequately supported.
With growing fears youngsters’ mental health has been severely impacted the Covid-19 restrictions, the summer programme will see them take part in sport and group activities before lessons being, the paper reports.
It comes as Mr Johnson is expected to announce on Monday his plans for a return of all pupils to school by March 8.
The plan to help children who have fallen behind has been drafted up by Sir Kevan Collins, who was tasked with drawing up a system by the PM earlier this month.
A source said: “This isn’t just education support but also social support.
“We’re acutely aware that pupils’ mental health has been impacted by not seeing friends or playing sport.”
In his speech in the Commons on Monday, Mr Johnson will outline his roadmap to coming out of lockdown.
He is expected to confirm that primary and secondary schools will return on March 8, albeit with exemptions for schools in areas of localised high infections
That is despite multiple union branding the move “reckless” as they recommended a phased return to prevent a spike in infections.
Schools have been closed since England was plunged into a third national lockdown in January, with only the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters attending in person.
Nine education unions, including the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the NAHT school leaders’ union, the National Education Union (NEU), the NASUWT teachers’ union, issued a joint statement on Friday urging the PM to take a cautious approach.
The unions said: “We are increasingly concerned that the government is minded to order a full return of all pupils on Monday 8 March in England.
“This would seem a reckless course of action.
But Labour leader Keir Starmer said he supported the idea of an across-the-board return for all pupils.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that more coronavirus testing and “Nightingale classrooms” could address some of the issues.
“Ideally, I would like to see all schools back open on March 8 and all children back into schools on March 8,” Mr Starmer said.
“I have been worried through the pandemic – a number of people have – about the impact that being out of school has on, particularly, vulnerable children and the attainment gap is getting bigger.”
He said the Government would have to follow the data and the scientific advice on the issue, “but that’s what we should be working towards”.
“If that means more testing, if that means Nightingale classrooms, if it means other measures, let’s do that because I want to get our kids back into school.”