Boris Johnson has appointed education specialist Sir Kevan Collins to oversee a “comprehensive programme of catch-up” aimed at young people who have lost out on learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Collins, who will be the government's "education recovery commissioner", is a former teacher and an ex-local authority director of children’s services. He was chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation for eight years until 2019.
Downing Street said the prime minister recognised the huge impact school closures had had on learning and pledged to work with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to give pupils the chance to make up for gaps in their education over the course of this parliament.
It said Collins would report directly to the prime minister and education secretary Gavin Williamson on his work with government to deliver measures that will support children who have missed out on face-to-face education due to extended school closures.
The work will include curriculum content and teaching time to ensure the impact the pandemic has had on learning is addressed as quickly and comprehensively as possible.
Johnson said education remained the top priority for ministers and that the government had committed £300m to help with catch-up this year, on top of £1bn announced in June last year.
“I am absolutely determined that no child will be left behind as a result of the pandemic,” he said.
“Our top priority is to get schools open again and once they are, we will make sure that teachers and students are equipped with the resources and the time they need to make up for lost learning.
“I am delighted that Sir Kevan has been appointed to lead this vital work – his experience and expertise will help ensure every young person is supported to catch up on their education and gain the skills and knowledge they need to be able to seize opportunities in future.”
Williamson said Collins brought a wealth of experience in education policy to the new commissioner role.
“He will be a tremendous asset to those young people, their families, and everyone working in education who have my lasting gratitude for their efforts to support young people throughout the pandemic,” he said.
Collins will consult closely with parents, teachers and schools as part of his role.
The Prime Minister’s Office said the government would set out further details on its approach to re-opening schools as part of its plan for leaving lockdown, which will be published in mid-February.