We’ve had really positive feedback from our 3rd February 2021 webinar Catch Up Funding - How to Use it Effectively, hosted by Professor Toby Salt (Regional Chair of Governors at the Academies Enterprise Trust and former CEO of AQA, formerly the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance). Below are some of the insights discussed on the day by our 3 special guests:

Demi Daniel - Curriculum Strategy Unit, DfE (Department for Education)

Stephen Morales - Chief Executive, Institute of School Business Leadership

Dr. John Stephens - CEO, Bright Futures Educational Trust

The webinar focussed on:

  • why the catch up funding is being allocated,
  • how schools can make informed decisions about the needs of their students; and
  • how the catch up funding can actually be spent.

We hope you find this summary and the resources linked useful!

Why is it being allocated?

“In a nutshell, for schools, it’s money given to you to help you support your pupils to catch up.”

Demi Daniel

The package totals around £1.3 billion, and is intended to support pupils to catch up with gaps in their learning due time away from school. Demi highlighted that catch up funding comes from 2 sources: the government’s own catch up premium scheme from the Department for Education (DfE) and the National Tutoring Programme (NTP). The catch up premium totals £650 million, or £240 per pupil in special schools and alternative provisions, and £80 per pupil in mainstream schools. The NTP was launched in November 2020 to provide high-quality tuition for disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils and accounts for £350 million of the total figure. “You should have received your first instalment, which is 25% of the total, in the autumn term” said Demi, before explaining the remaining 75% will be paid in instalments split between the late Spring and Summer terms respectively. On top of this, an extra £300 million has been committed by the government for further down the line.

The DfE are also mitigating learning loss and the need for catch up by supporting schools and colleges to deliver high-quality remote education. They have provided schools with a support package to deliver quality remote education, signposted via the one-stop-shop Get Help With Remote Education page. This includes a wide range of resources and CPD which will equip schools to access technology, use technology effectively and support the effective delivery of the curriculum.

How can we make informed decisions about the needs of children and young people?

“The most effective way of using this funding is always going to depend on context.”

Dr. John Stephens

There are no hard and fast rules for how schools should spend their funding. Demi pointed out that because schools have several things to consider, catch up funding was designed with this flexibility in mind: “[Catch up funding is] very flexible, because we believe that school leaders will be able to see the needs in their school and to act in accordance to it.” What, then, should be considered to make sure these needs are met? Dr. John Stephens laid out the 4 things that schools should ask themselves:

  1. What data have we got to help us understand our students’ current situations?
  2. How are we going to prioritise to make the most impact on the most students?
  3. What will this look like if we do it well?
  4. How are we going to know that we’re on the right track?

The answers for each question will be different for every school. John recommended the resources provided on the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) website to help. “We’ve found both their support materials and the underpinning evidence really useful. They’re very accessible, they’re practical, and they’re pragmatic, and they’ve helped us to keep it pretty simple, because we’ve all got enough to do at the moment.”

How can it be spent?

“You need to build and develop a very robust narrative to support your tailored strategy.”

Stephen Morales

Stephen spoke of how the gap between more and less advantaged children has grown as a result of the pandemic, citing data from the Sutton Trust and the EEF, and that this is one of the biggest challenges for schools to address. The DfE recommends spending some of the money on 1:1 tuition for children who are falling behind, and Stephen touched upon investing in resources, technological equipment, extended school time, extra teaching capacity, extracurricular programmes and/or summer programmes, all depending on school requirements. The money can even be saved by schools to spend in the future if they see fit.

Stephen mentioned that future OFSTED visits will feature conversations about how schools are bringing students back into mainstream education, and that from Summer 2021 OFSTED will be looking at the impact on schools of catch up premium spending. Stephen advised that school leaders ensure they are confident in their ability to justify their spending. “If you’ve brought the right actors into that conversation - your governors, your trustees, that leadership triangle that I talk about of Pedagogy, Business and Governance working seamlessly together - then I think you’re on a much surer footing.”

Ensuring pupils with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) are effectively supported also needs careful consideration. Dr. John Stephens spoke of how school and trusts with SEND pupils may already have plans in place that can be used to inform catch up spending:

“If you’ve got pupils with special education needs and disabilities, especially those that have got an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC), you will already have in place some specific planning. (...) If you’ve already got a really clear plan, what you need to do is look at the new context and the impact of that new context.”

Dr. John Stephens

John gave a personal example from Bright Futures Educational Trust, where there were already plans in place for students with SEND. The new context of COVID-19 meant that students were missing out on particular therapies they would ordinarily get in school, and so the trust decided to spend some of the catch up funding to mobilise some of those specialist therapies in order for students to access them from home. “What are the key things that we can do for these students that will have the most impact and have the least demand on parents?”

Want to make your catch up premium count with cost effective, flexible tutoring? Take a look at Zen Educate’s catch up offering - book qualified teachers for small-group tutoring or as supply cover to free up class teachers

You can watch the webinar in its entirety here:

We’d like to thank Toby, Demi, John and Stephen again for their time and insight. Follow Zen Educate on Twitter to let us know if you have any feedback and make sure you don’t miss out on future webinars.