Covid-19: The DfE has 'made far too many missteps'

The National Audit Office's report card on ministers' management of education during Covid has sparked a scathing response about some of the DfE's 'missteps' and 'tone-deaf decisions'. There is also concern that the National Tutoring Programme is not reaching the most disadvantaged pupils. Pete Henshaw reports

From “tone-deaf” decisions over free school meals to chaotic, last-minute guidance, and the ill-fated laptop scheme, the Department for Education “made far too many missteps” during the pandemic, school leaders have said.

The “nadir” came in December when ministers threatened schools with legal action if they went ahead with plans to move to remote learning to avoid families having to self-isolate at Christmas.

The scathing response comes as the National Audit Office has published a report looking at the DfE’s performance during the pandemic (NAO, 2021) and its plans to support education recovery.

Look forward: NTP not reaching the disadvantaged?

Perhaps most vitally, given the pandemic’s impact on the most disadvantaged children, the NAO raises concerns that only 44 per cent of pupils who have been allocated a place on the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) are eligible for the Pupil Premium.

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