Children are the unsung heroes of the pandemic and Boris Johnson’s school catch-up pledge is an insult to them

(Photo by JEREMY SELWYN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo by JEREMY SELWYN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JEREMY SELWYN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Government’s paltry offer of £1.4 billion of funding to enable schools to help pupils catch-up on learning missed during the pandemic is an appalling insult to the children of the UK.

For more than a year the country has suffered not only at the hands of the terrible virus but also at the hands of a government, who as well as being woefully unprepared for the pandemic, have dithered and lurched from one disastrous decision to another.

At this time of national crisis, when the leadership the nation needed was sadly lacking, it has been ordinary citizens who have stepped up and been the true heroes of the hour.

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Our healthcare professionals and carers, teachers, bus drivers, shop workers, volunteers, and delivery drivers, to name but a few, have been rightly lauded for their efforts through adversity to keep the country going since the start of the pandemic.

We have clapped for them, made banners for them and much has been written and said about their service to the country during the crisis.

But there is one group of people who remain relatively unsung heroes of this whole sorry mess - children.

Kids thrive on stability and routine and that has all been turned upside down over the past 14 months or so.

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Their education has been thrown into turmoil and they have been cruelly deprived of contact with friends, loving grandparents, aunties and uncles.

Playgrounds were needlessly made out-of-bounds and cordoned off like crime scenes and the carefree wonder and joy of childhood has been suppressed.

Yet the resilience I have seen from my own children and from many others has been nothing short of remarkable.

Most have adapted brilliantly and without complaint to home schooling and the other drastic changes enforced upon their lives. While many adults have understandably struggled due to the pressures and uncertainty of repeated lockdowns, kids have just got on with things, as they do.

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This generation of youngsters has been a beacon of hope for the future throughout this pandemic and we should be investing everything we can in them.

Which is why the miserly £1.4 billion pledged this week to help them catch up at school just isn’t good enough. It is woefully inadequate.

Compare that with the more than £100 billion lavished on support for jobs, including the furlough scheme, during the pandemic.

Or the tens of billions spent on Test and Trace and the vaccines rollout.

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The school catch-up recovery package is a drop in the water compared to all that and it demands an urgent rethink. As it stands it breaks down to a mere £50 per child, which is simply not good enough.

It is now wonder Sir Kevan Collins, the Government’s education recovery commissioner, quit after just four months in the role saying the support package “does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge”.

Our youngest people have been little stars throughout this period of crisis and now is the time to do right by them, to do everything to ensure they don’t become the generation that gets left behind.

When it comes to supporting our children in these unprecedented times the Government shouldn’t be pinching pennies, they should be writing them a blank cheque. If we fail them now, in this hour of need, it could turn out to be the costliest mistake of the pandemic.

What are you thoughts on the support package being offered by the Government? Use the Comments section below to join the debate.

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