Politics latest news: Educational inequality will be 'legacy of Covid' without more funding, Government warned

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·48-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Educational inequality could be the "legacy of Covid", the former catch-up tsar has said, as he raised a warning against "complacency" that recovery could happen on its own.

Sir Kevan Collins told the Commons' education committee he had quit his role because the "feeble" amount put forward would not make up for the hours of lost learning. His proposals for a £15 billion-package were met with a £1.4 billion fund.

He told MPs: "The growing education inequality could be the legacy of Covid if we're not very careful. We have to intentionally and directly intervene, support the children with the greatest need."

The Department for Education "must" persuade the Treasury of the "economic and education arguments" to invest more, Sir Kevan added.

"Of course we will have to do more because we cannot blight a generation of children by not investing in their education."

However, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing the package was "a significant sum of money", although added: "We will obviously keep the situation in our schools under review and consider what further steps may be necessary."

​​Follow the latest updates below.

02:52 PM

Lord Frost plays tiny violin for Tiny Dancer

Lord Frost on Elton John: You're still standing after all this time - PA
Lord Frost on Elton John: You're still standing after all this time - PA

Lord Frost has hit out at cricitism from Sir Elton John over post-Brexit touring in the EU.

The Tiny Dancer singer told the Observer the new system was a "nightmare" adding: "To young people just starting a career, it's crucifying."

He also branded the Government "philistines".

But the Brexit minister told MPs: "I can't help noticing that [Sir Elton] had his first hits before the UK even became a member of the European Union, so I think there's probably more at play here than pure rules applying within the then European Community.

"Talent is important and that's why we support our talented industries."

However, he added: "esolving the visa issues is "a major priority for us and we hope to be able to deliver some results during this year".

02:43 PM

Andy Burnham 'grateful' for travel ban lift

Andy Burnham has said he is "grateful" to Nicola Sturgeon for lifting the travel ban on Greater Manchester, after the two butted heads over the decision.

The Scottish Government will "ease travel arrangements" between Scotland and Manchester, Salford and Bolton. However, Blackburn and Darwen will remain under restrictions for at least another week.

See 2:30pm for more.

02:31 PM

Dominic Raab's phone number left online for years

Dominic Raab's phone number has been online for a number of years - Shutterstock
Dominic Raab's phone number has been online for a number of years - Shutterstock

Dominic Raab's private mobile number has been available online for a number of years, it has emerged.

The discovery, first reported by the Guardian, raised further questions for the security services after it was revealed Boris Johnson's was freely available online.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Private information was wrongly retained online, before the Foreign Secretary's appointment.

"Once we were made aware, we had it removed immediately. Most of it was out of date, and no security was compromised."

02:29 PM

Bring it on: Rishi Sunak gets ready for England v Germany

Boris Johnson might not be the world's biggest football fan, but Rishi Sunak is getting in the mood...

02:24 PM

Extremely proud: Lord Bethell defends record during pandemic

Lord Bethell has told peers he had written to the standards watchdog following a complaint about him sponsoring a parliamentary security pass for Matt Hancock's aide Gina Coladangelo, despite reports that she never worked for him, which is against the rules.

The health minister said he would be "very glad to share" the letter with his colleagues, adding that he takes his role "extremely seriously indeed", and that he was "extremely proud of the way in which that business was conducted".

He also told the upper house they should judge what they read online "extremely sceptically because distorted fragments of evidence do not provide sufficient grounds to rush to judgement in house ministers do their business".

02:03 PM

Lord Bethell: My use of private emails 'not wrong'

Lord Bethell defended his use of personal email addresses under the guidelines and said he had written to many peers from both his official and private accounts.

The junior health minister told peers he was "absolutely rigorous" in using the "correct formal channels".

"Contracts are negotiated by officials, not by ministers," he said. "Official decisions are communicated through secure governmental infrastructure."

He added: "The guidelines are clear - it is not wrong for ministers to have personal email addresses and I have corresponded with a very large number of members in this chamber from both my parliamentary address and from my personal address and that is right and I will continue to do so."

Lord Bethell suggested that he was contacted by third parties who "in their enthusiasm" had tracked him down via personal email. "That is not the same as using a personal email for formal departmental decision-making," he added.

01:59 PM

Michael Gove accused of 'habitual dishonesty' as he dodges Commons questions

Labour has accused Michael Gove of "habitual dishonesty", after the Cabinet Office minister failed to come to the Commons to answer questions today.

The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, noted his disappointment that junior minister Julia Lopez was sent to answer questions on his behalf.

But Angela Rayner, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has claimed she has "clear evidence" that he has broken the ministerial code and suggested he was avoiding scrutiny because he has "contradicted himself so many times".

She added: "Gove's attitude smacks of a contempt for the truth and habitual dishonesty. If he is so sure he’s done nothing wrong he should publish all the correspondence and refer himself for an investigation so he can clear his name."

01:49 PM

Grant Shapps raises warning over 'complexities' of US-UK travel

Grant Shapps has cast doubt on a quick resolution to allow transatlantic travel given "complexities" linked to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and US vaccine status checks.

The Transport Secretary said "progress is being made" to reopen travel between the UK and US, but said there were a "whole series of complexities to resolve" first.

"For example, the US does not recognise AstraZeneca, currently because AstraZeneca hasn't applied for the licence," he explained. "On the other side we don't have any particular system to recognise vaccine status from the United States because they don't have a digitised system as we do with our NHS - they have 50 separate systems.

"There are complexities."

01:40 PM

Charles Moore: Boris was right to wait until Hancock resigned

Much rubbish is talked about ministerial resignations, and Nick Robinson – always out to get Boris Johnson – was talking it with his usual eloquence on the BBC Today programme yesterday, writes Charles Moore.

Why, he demanded of the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, was Matt Hancock not sacked on Friday "as anybody would have been in any other job". This from the BBC, which took a quarter of a century to sack Martin Bashir.

The answer to Nick’s question is clear, and it applies to all prime ministers. Mrs Thatcher fought hard to save Cecil Parkinson after he had made his secretary pregnant. John Major struggled to support ministers whose trousers round their ankles were causing them to trip up. Tony Blair struggled to keep Peter Mandelson when caught borrowing a stupefying sum from a fellow minister to buy a nice house.

They all failed, but they all understood they had to try. If the media – or the Opposition – successfully demand a sacking, they will tend to force another and another, until the Prime Minister himself is sacked.

Read more from Charles here.

01:30 PM

Scotland lifts ban on travel from Manchester and Salford

The Scottish Government has announced it will lift its ban on non-essential travel from Manchester and Salford.

It follows a dispute between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham over the Covid rules, which came into effect on June 21.

Scotland's health secretary, Humza Yousaf, said: "Nobody wants travel restrictions in place for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

"Placing restrictions on travel between Scotland and parts of north west England was only taken after extremely careful consideration and analysis of data to help prevent the spread of variants of concern."

He added: "Following a careful review of the data we have decided to ease travel arrangements between Scotland and Manchester, Salford and Bolton. However, the situation regarding Blackburn and Darwen will need to be closely monitored and will be reviewed again in a week's time."

01:24 PM

Quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Britons is 'complicated', says Transport Secretary

Allowing double-jabbed travellers arriving in the UK to avoid quarantine is a "complicated" policy and will "require time to work through", according to the Transport Secretary.

Grant Shapps told the Commons the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations "has yet to opine on whether children should be part of the vaccination programme", which could post a challenge for families hoping to travel.

There are also questions about people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and logistics "of how to recognise vaccine status at ports and airports", Mr Shapps said.

"As a result of all of this we will announce to the House when we're ready to make these decisions in order to bring this system into place, phased most likely for UK residents first."

01:14 PM

Transport committee chairman calls for 'flightpath' for travel industry

Huw Merriman has called for a "flightpath" for international travel, an equivalent to the road map, in a bid to give the travel industry "a little more certainty".

The Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons' transport committee asked: "For the domestic restrictions being eased we have a road map with data and dates. For international travel can we have the equivalent, a flightpath so that we know what is going to happen and when and by what measure....to give a little more certainty to industry and passengers alike."

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said he would give "further details as soon as next month" as he reaffirmed his desire to "return international travel as soon as we practically can to something as close as normality as possible".

01:00 PM

The Queen meets Nicola Sturgeon as part of Holyrood Week

Queen Elizabeth II receives Nicola Sturgeon at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week. - PA
Queen Elizabeth II receives Nicola Sturgeon at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, as part of her traditional trip to Scotland for Holyrood Week. - PA

The Queen has met Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, during an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

The meeting at the Queen's official residence in Scotland took place during her traditional trip north of the border for Holyrood Week.

The Queen also spoke with Alison Johnstone MSP, who became presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament after May's election.

12:50 PM

Government must stop treating children as 'afterthought' and act now

The Government is treating children as "an afterthought", Labour has claimed, amid rising number of school-age kids having to self-isolate despite cases remaining relatively low.

Kate Green, the shadow education secretary, has written to Gavin Williamson urging him to scrap the bubbles now, instead of delaying until the Step Four announcement.

She said: "The Conservatives have treated children as an afterthought throughout this pandemic and Sir Kevan Collins is right to describe their plans as ‘feeble’.

"Parents and schools are crying out for help and they’re just not getting it. The Government cannot simply wait until September to act on self-isolation and other measures we have been calling for.

"Ministers must work with their expert scientific advisers now to review the bubbles system ahead of the summer holidays to ensure as many children can be in the classroom as possible."

12:44 PM

Government 'unnecessarily winding up' Commons with media-first approach

Downing Street "could avoid a lot of trouble for itself by simply making statements in Commons first" a senior wonk at the Institute for Government has said.

Alice Lilly, a senior researcher at the non-partisan think thank, noted Sir Lindsay Hoyle's ongoing anger at ministers making statements outside the House first, which has bubbled over again today (see below).

She said it was the "clearest statement yet from the Speaker that if ministers won't come to the Commons to make announcements, then he will simply force them to come to the House by granting lots of UQs."

But noting it was a "process, not a policy issue", she added: "I don't see what the government thinks they gain from unnecessarily winding up the Speaker, Opposition MPs, and their own backbenchers."

12:35 PM

Sir Linday Hoyle turns his fire on Government (again)

Sir Lindsay Hoyle really is on fire today.

Fresh from telling off Ian Blackford and other MPs during the last debate, the Speaker gives the Government a piece of his mind about ministers' ongoing trend of making announcements outside the House first.

While he says he will continue to grant UQs to ensure scrutiny "it would be better for all concerned if the Government followed its own ministerial code and made importance announcements to this House, where members are elected to represent their constituents."

12:31 PM

Angela Rayner calls for Speaker's help on 'misleading' private email reports

Angela Rayner has asked the Speaker for guidance on how to proceed, following Number 10's concession that Lord Bethell did use his personal email (see 1:22pm).

The deputy leader of the opposition said: "Can I seek your advice Mr Speaker as to how we get clarity because we have had misleading reporters in the last 24 hours on this matter, and how we can get an independent inquiry, so we actually od get to the facts of the case?"

Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked Julia Lopez, the Cabinet Office minister, if she wanted to respond - but she shakes her head.

He tells Ms Rayner it is now on the record, adding: "I hope that people are listening to what is being request... I am sure this won't be the end of it being raised."

12:26 PM

'Zesty' Speaker chastises another MP

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has rebuked another MP for his behaviour during a debate with Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez.

Just minutes after criticising Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader (see 12:55pm), Sir Lindsay chastised Neale Hanvey for talking longer than his allotted time.

A visibly angry Speaker cut the Alba Party MP off after a long-winded point, saying: "He may shake his head, he he may shake his hands, but he ought to realise that members ought to be heard and not just him - I make the decision on the length of time!"

Ms Lopez said she was "enjoying your zest today".

12:22 PM

Lobby latest: No 10 shifts stance on private emails

Downing Street appears to have shifted its stance on the use of personal emails to conduct Government business, saying it is acceptable if the information was copied to an official account.

Yesterday No 10 said Matt Hancock had only used private emails for diary acceptances, adding that "the former health secretary and Lord Bethell only ever conducted government business through their departmental email addresses".

Today, the same spokesman said that ministers "are able to communicate through a variety of different ways" as long as they have taken "steps to ensure the relevant information" is retrievable by "copying it to a government email address".

"All ministers are aware of this guidance around personal email usage and government business is conducted in line with that guidance."

The change comes after Labour's Angela Rayner said she had minutes proving private emails had been used.

12:17 PM

Have your say: Is the Government doing enough to support our children?

The Telegraph has launched a campaign calling on ministers to put children first as the country recovers from repeated lockdowns, with action to bring an end to the disruption of schools, and address the harm caused.

A trial of daily tests, instead of self-isolation, is due to conclude tomorrow but Nick Gibb, the schools standards minister, indicated that any change to the rules would have to wait until July 19 - meaning another month of mass quarantine for children.

On top of that, Sir Kevan Collins, the former catch-up tsar, today told MPs the £1.4bn package put forward was "feeble", and warned of the cost to the economy and society if more is not done. The Prime Minister's spokesman insisted it was a "substantial sum" - but has kept the door open to doing more.

So is enough being done? Have your say in the poll below.

12:14 PM

Lord Bethell dodges questions about private email use

Lord Bethell (R) is under fire over his use of private emails - AFP
Lord Bethell (R) is under fire over his use of private emails - AFP

Lord Bethell has failed to deny claims that he used his private email for government business, but insisted he sought to uphold the ministerial code "in everything I do".

The junior health minister was tackled over the controversy in the House of Lords following his absence from the despatch box on Monday after getting caught up in the Matt Hancock scandal.

Pressed by Tory peer and former Boris Johnson aide Lord Udny-Lister if he "routinely" uses his private email, Lord Bethell said: "In terms of the use of private email can I just reassure members that I have read the ministerial code, I have signed the ministerial code and I seek to uphold it in everything I do."

12:05 PM

Lobby latest: No 10 commits to publishing daily Covid statistics

The Government will continue to publish daily coronavirus figures once restrictions have been lifted, according to Downing Street.

Asked if this is expected to continue, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told Westminster reporters: "Yes.

"We will continue, and are continuing, to provide these updates through the dashboard that provide an important level of transparency to the public and ensure understanding how we are progressing."

Asked how long this could go on for, the spokesman added: "We will keep it under review as we go forward but clearly now it is entirely right that we continue to provide this level of data and transparency to the public as the world continues to fight this pandemic."

12:04 PM

Lobby latest: Sausage wars dispute be to resolved imminently

Number 10 is confident a truce will be reached to prevent a "sausage war" trade dispute with Brussels.

A grace period allowing chilled meats - including sausages - to cross from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is due to expire tomorrow.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We expect to agree an extension to the chilled meat grace period soon, on terms which are acceptable to the UK.

"We will announce further details in the usual way."

12:04 PM

Lobby latest: Bubbles review won't be published until end of summer term

Downing Street said that it intends to publish a review into whether to replace self-isolation rules in schools with regular testing at the same time as the review into social distancing.

That has been earmarked to coincide with Step Four, meaning it could not be released until the last few days of the summer term. It comes as latest figures show that Covid-related pupil absence hit a record high, with more than 375,000 pupils off school as a result of Covid, up from 239,000 the previous week.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters: "Our intention is to publish this together and provide certainty to the public. If we are able to do that, that's what we intend to do."

12:02 PM

Lobby latest: Businesses should 'make accommodations' for staff to watch Euros, says No 10

Businesses should "make accommodations" for people to watch the England game at 5pm today "if they are happy to do so," Number 10 has said, although Boris Johnson will not be downing tools to join them.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The Prime Minister knows the nation is behind Gareth Southgate and his squad and sends them the best of luck ahead of this afternoon's game."

He said "whenever possible we would want businesses and employers to make accommodations for people to be able to watch the match, if they are happy to do so".

"It's for employers and managers, they are best placed to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis," the spokesman said. "The Prime Minister himself is hoping to see as much of the game as possible in between his work commitments."

A TV screen has been set up in the garden at Downing Street so attendees to a Pride month reception hosted by the PM this evening will have a chance to watch the match if this wish to do so.

11:55 AM

Kick him out: Ian Blackford sparks uproar in Commons

MPs have called for Ian Blackford to be thrown out of the Commons, after he was heard challenging a minister over the use of public funds to carry out polling.

The SNP's Westminster leader secured an urgent question about what he called the "misuse of public funds", and had already received a rebuke for suggesting that Michael Gove and Boris Johnson were liars.

"The truth and this Government are distant strangers and that should come as no surprise when we remember the Prime Minister has been sacked not once but twice for lying," he said, sparking uproar from other MPs.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, ordered him to withdraw the language, although Mr Blackford insisted it had been carefully chosen.

And while Julia Lopez, a junior minister, was responding saying that "ministers had no personal involvement in the decision to award this contract", another kerfuffle could be heard, with at least one MP saying "kick him out".

11:48 AM

Lobby latest: No 10 hits out at 'intimidation, harassment and abuse' of Chris Whitty

Downing Street has said the harassment of Professor Chris Whitty was "completely unacceptable".

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It is completely unacceptable for hard-working public servants like the chief medical officer and people who are working to save lives in a pandemic - as Chris has done - to face intimidation, harassment or abuse.

"Obviously this is a matter for the police and you will have seen that they are investigating."

Asked whether Prof Whitty and colleagues would be offered police protection, the spokesman said: "We keep security under constant review but I'm not going to be commenting on specific arrangements for individuals."

See more below.

11:47 AM

Ministers agree we will 'live with Covid' as new Health Secretary joins Cabinet

Ministers have agreed that "we will be able to live with Covid in the future" once at the final stage of the road map because of the vaccination rollout, during this morning's Cabinet meeting.

Boris Johnson welcomed Sajid Javid, the new Health Secretary, but there was no mention of his predecessor during the meeting, a Number 10 spokesman said.

The Prime Minister told his colleagues that with hospitalisations and deaths seeing "a much shallower growth", reiterating that he was "increasingly confident in taking the final step on July 19".

The spokesman added: "Cabinet agreed that once we have completed the road map, we will be able to live with Covid in the future, even if cases continue to rise, thanks to the protections provided by the vaccine."

11:42 AM

Quarantine exemption for business travellers is 'taking the p----', says Labour frontbencher

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner has hit out at plans to allow senior executives to avoid quarantine in England if they are undertaking business activities which will bring "significant economic benefit" to the economy.

"Sorry for the unparliamentary language but this just takes the p---," the Ashton-under-Lyne MP tweeted.

"It is the lowest paid working people who have got our country through this crisis, risking their lives on the frontline. This is an offensive slap in the face for them and shows this Government's true colours."

She added: "Yet again it is one rule for those at the top and another for everyone else. This makes a total mockery of the sacrifices of the British people during this pandemic and this double standard is an insult to frontline workers that the British people will rightly be disgusted by."

11:35 AM

Covid-related school absences have hit a new high

Covid-related pupil absence in schools in England has hit a new record high since all students returned to class in March, Government figures show.

Around one in 20 (5.1 per cent) state school pupils did not attend class for Covid-19-related reasons on June 24, up from 3.3 per cent on June 17 and 1.2% on June 10, according to estimates from the Department for Education (DfE).

These include approximately 279,000 children self-isolating due to a possible contact with a Covid-19 case, 24,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus and 15,000 with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

The attendance figures for state school pupils have been adjusted to exclude those year 11-13 students not expected to attend because they are off-site, the DfE said.

11:27 AM

Boris Johnson welcomes Sajid Javid back to first Cabinet

Boris Johnson has welcomed Sajid Javid back to the Cabinet this morning, as the new Health Secretary returns to the top team.

Boris Johnson in Downing Street this morning - Reuters
Boris Johnson in Downing Street this morning - Reuters

We will get the full read-out from the meeting shortly.

11:17 AM

Watch - Batley and Spen by-election: Keir Starmer’s future hangs in the balance

The constituency of Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire has had a Labour MP for 24 years - but that could be about to change.

Polling suggests the Conservatives could take a seat where 16 candidates are vying for power, including the controversial firebrand George Galloway, who could split the Labour vote.

Sir Keir Starmer is desperate to avoid a hat-trick of bad results after his party lost in Hartlepool and lost its deposit in Chesham and Amersham. The seat could become the latest northern Labour stronghold to fall to the Tories.

Watch the video below to find out what could sway the election.

10:51 AM

Have your say: Is the Government doing enough to support our children?

The Telegraph has launched a campaign calling on ministers to put children first as the country recovers from repeated lockdowns, with action to bring an end to the disruption of schools, and address the harm caused.

A trial of daily tests, instead of self-isolation, is due to conclude tomorrow but Nick Gibb, the schools standards minister, indicated that any change to the rules would have to wait until July 19 - meaning another month of mass quarantine for children.

On top of that, Sir Kevan Collins, the former catch-up tsar, today told MPs the £1.4bn package put forward was "feeble", and warned of the cost to the economy and society if more is not done.

So is enough being done? Have your say in the poll below.

10:40 AM

Response to lost learning will 'set the course for society', says Sir Kevan Collins

Young people who leave school at 16 are "heading towards a very difficult labour market" and could become "Neet", Sir Kevan Collins has said.

Neet, meaning young people 'not engaged in education, employment or training', is "not only a cost to ourselves - £69,000 per young person, it also has "implications for a young person's life, well-being and wealth".

The former catch-up tsar said the recovery "will not only set the course for our education system, it will also set the course for how we respond to society".

"If we don't get this right there will be a generation of people who have lost out."

10:31 AM

Education system will 'fracture in ways we haven't seen before' without rapid action

Sir Kevan Collins has warned of a snowball effect caused by Covid-induced lost learning, saying that a child who is behind in their reading aged five is "seven-times more likely to be behind in maths when they are seven".

He tells MPs: "It is not just reading, it is the whole curriculum that begins to unravel for children.

"How we respond to this will set the course for the English education system for the next 10 years and my worry is we are going to have growing inequality, the system fracturing in ways we haven' seen before.

"The biggest Covid was the level of variant... in every constituency some children were having a wonderful experience. Others weren't and it's opening up, and I think that is going to be a feature of our system if we are not careful and act very, very quickly."

10:11 AM

Decision on scrapping school bubbles to be announced by July 19

A decision on scrapping school bubbles is to be announced by July 19 at the latest, a minister confirmed, as the Telegraph launched a campaign to put children first as the country recovers from repeated lockdowns.

Almost 250,000 pupils are currently off school as a result of Covid, even though just 9,000 have tested positive for the virus, further exacerbating the disruption to their learning and adding to parents' woes.

Nick Gibb, the schools standards minister, confirmed that an announcement will be made on alternatives before July 19, with a daily tests pilot currently underway.

"We are conducting trials of daily contact testing as a possible alternative to self-isolation," he told Sky News. "We will look at the results of the trial and we'll make any decisions, it will be announced before we make a decision on step four going forward."

10:09 AM

Sir Kevan Collins quit because funding was not about 'recovery for the child'

Sir Kevan Collins has confirmed he quit as catch-up tsar over "the amount - the quantum" that had been assigned for the nation's educational recovery.

"The non-academic outcomes - the social, the emotional learning for our children - in the current package, there wasn't any money for that. And that really matters... because it sent the signal that this was about the child, it was a recovery for childhood and not just some narrow stuff."

He told the Commons' education committee focused on three points: attainment, the gap, and a shift in non-academic outcomes for children.

09:55 AM

Sir Kevan Collins: I am very worried about complacency in education recovery

Sir Kevan Collins has said his resignation was "a very, very difficult decision" because he wanted to be involved in the recovery.

This is "the biggest challenge of our educators," he told MPs. "I am very worried about complacency that this will happen naturally... we have to mobilise to this."

But the "quantum was so different" to the amount required to deliver the recovery, he felt he had to quit as catch-up tsar.

"We need a significant greater investment that the Government has agreed to provide so far."

09:48 AM

'We cannot blight generation by not investing', says former catch-up tsar

Sir Kevan Collins says he has been "reassured" by promises by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak that there will be more funding, telling MPs he has taken them "in good faith".

The former catch-up tsar, who resigned over the lack of support for his plan, said he is "a total optimist".

"Of course we will have to do more because we cannot blight a generation of children by not investing in their education," he adds.

"I would rather be [spending too much] than under-investing in the lives of our children."

09:46 AM

Former catch-up tsar calls for Treasury to publish estimates of lost learning cost to economy

"Conservative" estimates that the impact of Covid on lost learning will cost the economy £100bn were presented to the Treasury, but did not elicit a "direct response".

Sir Kevan Collins noted there were "a range of estimates" including an OECD figure that "went beyond a trillion".

The DfE's figure was "very robust" but the former catch-up tsar said there was no "direct response".

He told the Commons' education committee: "Everybody accepts there is a link between the economic wellbeing of the nation and the productivity in education terms.

"A key question might be... what is the Treasury's own model of the economic loss?"

09:35 AM

Former catch-up tsar attacks 'feeble' funding for education recovery

The amount of money put forward to recover from the last classroom time is "feeble", Sir Kevan Collins has claimed.

"There is definitely something happening... to the mental health and wellbeing of our children," he told the Commons' education committee. "There is not enough competitive sport, not enough activity, not enough socialisation and music and art. That has a bearing.

"We know that our country has responded in a way which compared to some others is a bit feeble. The amount of money we are responding with at the moment - these are significant sums, but this scale of shock requires a massive national effort to recovery.

"It's not a bit of tutoring in the corner, it's a fundamental approach the school needs to take. Recovery... is not an activity, it's an outcome."

09:27 AM

Department for Education 'must' convince Treasury of need to spend on recovery

The Department for Education must convince the Treasury to properly fund the country's push to catch up on lost learning, Sir Kevan Collins has said.

The former catch-up tsar resigned after his £15 billion plan for recovery was rejected for being too expensive. Instead DfE announced a £1.4 billion fund.

"I think the economic and education arguments are so strong, of course the Treasury will respond to that," he told the education committee.

"We must."

09:24 AM

Inequality among children could be 'legacy of Covid', warns former catch-up tsar

Sir Kevan Collins has said that growing inequality among disadvantaged children could be "the legacy of Covid".

The catch-up tsar noted that all children had suffered "but it is clear that we are going to see greater loss from the children who have greater need".

Speaking to the education committee, he said he was "very happy" to see the latest £700m funding be channelled through the pupil premium, meaning it is more targeted.

Recovery will take "a number of years", he added. "I don't think this is a quick fix catch up."

09:21 AM

School day length should be legislated, says former catch-up tsar

Sir Kevan Collins has said the amount of time schools should be extended would depend on the "capacity in the system", but there is "no legislation" about a school day.

He said every institution should be raised to the average - of six and a half hours - which would have seen 10,000 schools increase their days immediately. On top of that, a trial could run of increasing the school day by half an hour.

"I was never pushing it just academic," he adds. "My view is that it should be school-led... I want it to be a rich and broad experience, although I did want it to include some academic, because I think it should be when the tutoring should happen."

09:17 AM

Failure to increase school day is 'most disappointing', says former catch-up tsar

Sir Kevan Collins has said he was "very disappointed" that he had to resign, as he confirmed his proposals would have cost £15bn.

"The proposal that came forward... just wasn't enough to deliver the kind of recovery we need. I was given a very ambitious but very exciting exam question by the Prime Minister, which was to recover every child int his Parliament, I set about examining the evidence and approaches that would have allowed us to deliver that ambition.

He added that "time really matters" and the failure to grapple with this was "the bit that disappointed me most".

"There is an argument for increasing the amount of time children spend in school - to enable lots of things to happen, to create a space for children to be involved in broader things they have missed: competitive sport, drama, art, just for three or four years."

09:10 AM

Ministers are 'not on top' of persistent school absences, says former catch-up tsar

Pupils who have not regularly returned to the classroom since lockdown should be supported by local teams, Sir Kevan Collins has said.

"You need to be quite intimate to solve these persistent absent children - you can't do it from the distance of Whitehall, you have to do it on the ground in local communities," the former catch-up tsar said.

Ministers "could do more" to make the most of the local teams. "It's a worry, we need to get on top of it and I don't think we are as quickly as we should", he told the education committee.

Working "bottom up" from schools, and offering incentives such as free breakfast clubs, could help boost numbers.

09:06 AM

Former catch-up tsar calls for ministers to seek new advice on ending bubbles

Robert Halfon has highlighted The Telegraph's Campaign for Children, as he begins questioning former catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins.

The education committee chairman asks how he would deal with "this problem of bubbles being sent home and children self-isolating", which has led to such disruption.

Sir Kevan says the key thing is to "follow the evidence", and there is a need to "take new advice" on what can be done to ensure more children are back in classrooms.

08:57 AM

Education committee chairman backs Telegraph's Campaign for Children

The chairman of the Commons' education committee has backed The Telegraph's Campaign for Children, as he warns about the impact of ongoing disruption to learning.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow, said the "fantastic campaign is highlighting just how badly the isolation rules are impacting hundreds of thousands of pupils".

He added: "Yesterday, the Centre for Social Justice exposed the fact that 100k pupils are mostly absent from school. Today The Telegraph has shown how many children are missing their education due to isolation rules.

"We are in danger of creating a generation of lost children in terms of education."

He is one of a number of senior MPs to have called on the Government to put children at the heart of policy-making. Read more here.

08:49 AM

Rainbow Cabinet: Downing Street marks Pride Month

Somewhere under the rainbow: Mark Spencer, the chief whip, going into Downing Street - Reuters
Somewhere under the rainbow: Mark Spencer, the chief whip, going into Downing Street - Reuters

Ministers attending Cabinet this morning will see Downing Street looking rather more colourful than usual, as Number 10 marks Pride Month.

The rainbow arch has been created by artists Louisa Loizeau and Hattie Newman.

08:46 AM

Cheerio cancer: Cabinet Office minister announces return after surgery

Chloe Smith earlier this year - Clara Molden for The Telegraph
Chloe Smith earlier this year - Clara Molden for The Telegraph

A Cabinet Office minister has said "cheerio cancer" as she finishes her chemotherapy and surgery.

Chloe Smith, the 39-year old constitution minister, thanked the NHS, friends and family for supporting her over the last year, adding that "constituents have been extremely supportive, across the spectrum".

The Norwich North MP added: "I will now be returning to duties in person where essential, starting with constituency meetings. As a minister I’ll be back in Westminster shortly for Cabinet Office oral questions on July 8 and to lead the second readings of two Constitutional bills in this session."

She said: "It’s been a time of particular resilience and determination for me. Probably like the rest of the country right now, I feel hopeful and happier to look ahead to better times."

08:39 AM

Boris Johnson: We will not tolerate intimidation of Chris Whitty by thugs

Boris Johnson has condemned the "despicable harassment" of England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

The Prime Minister criticised the "thugs" for having intimidated the senior health official, adding: "We will not tolerate it."

See 7:56, 8:04 and 8:38am for more.

08:28 AM

Sherelle Jacobs: It is time to finally put children first in the age of Covid

For the first time in modern history, society has put the old before the young in an emergency, writes Sherelle Jacobs.

Clearly, people disagree about whether it was right to sacrifice more than a year of young people’s lives on the altar of the NHS. The public is also divided about whether such a raw choice could have been avoided altogether by protecting the vulnerable from Covid rather than pursuing lockdowns.

One thing is certain, however. It is time to finally put the young first.

Read more from Sherelle here.

08:22 AM

We must 'adapt our lives' to restore freedoms after pandemic, says Home Secretary

Priti Patel has said we will have to "adapt our lives accordingly" in order to get freedoms back while at the same time living with coronavirus.

"Look, I would love to take the mask off - but at the right time, I will do that," the Home Secretary told Times Radio.

"Many of us have been saying this across Government, probably for the last 12 months actually - we are living with this virus, we're in a pandemic.

"Yes, we have the vaccine, there'll be boosters at some stage, booster jabs as well, so we are adapting our way of life.

"I think to look to getting our freedoms back, which of course we all dearly want, we are adapting how we live and that means living with the concept of this pandemic, the virus, and obviously we adapt our lives accordingly."

08:07 AM

Tory MP warns of 'slight worsening' in Health Secretary's stance

Sajid Javid's first outing as Health Secretary made it clear he "wants us to be free" but there was a "slight worsening of the position" in what he said, a senior Tory has said.

"Matt Hancock told me the reason Step Four wasn't in the regulations was because it was freedom from the regulations," Steve Baker told GB News. "That wasn't what Sajid said, so now are all waiting to see what Step Four means."

"We are all counting on Sajid to take the difficult decision when it comes to avoid future lockdowns," the deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group added.

"Thank goodness we are starting to see an ending of tunnel vision which has characterised this crisis.... we are starting to see we need to take a broader picture and I really hope that is what Sajid does."

Read more here.

07:57 AM

'Public figures are not dolls,' says Labour MP after Chris Whitty abuse

Chris Whitty was harassed by two men in a London park
Chris Whitty was harassed by two men in a London park

The abuse of Professor Chris Whitty should act as a reminder that public figures "are human beings", Labour MP Jess Phillips has said.

The video was "horrible" and "it is clear that he felt awful and uncomfortable and resisted", she tweeted.

"Public figures are not dolls, they are human beings," the shadow minister for safeguarding added.

See 7:56am, 8:04am and 8:38am for more.

07:50 AM

Smacking children 'appalling and incomprehensible', says Priti Patel

Smacking children is an “appalling and incomprehensible” act by parents, says Priti Patel, following new research that it is linked to increased aggression and anti-social behaviour.

A study by UCL found that physical punishment was ineffective at addressing bad behaviour and actually makes them more aggressive.

Caregivers are forbidden from striking children in 62 countries, including Scotland and Wales. England and Northern Ireland have yet to prohibit the sanction.

The Home Secretary, who is herself a mother, told Times Radio: “I cannot think of anything more appalling. To me it is incomprehensible to smack children. I just say that categorically children need love and support. That’s really crucial in the development and upbringing of children.”

07:44 AM

Public figures must maintain compliance 'norm' following Matt Hancock's breach

Matt Hancock's breach of Covid rules is not on its own likely to make other people disobey them, a Government scientist has said.

Professor Robert West, who is a member of Spi-B, told Radio 4's Today programme: "I think that, in and of itself, that is already being priced in because people don't really trust politicians.

"The risk is if that seeds a wider norm around other people.

"So I think it's really up to everyone else, who people do trust - public health officials, the NHS, other public figures - not to go down that route and not to get drawn into that kind of double-speak, as it were."

07:38 AM

Chris Whitty may get extra support after 'appalling abuse', says Priti Patel

Priti Patel has said Home Office officials are looking at further support for Professor Chris Whitty, after the emergence of footage showing England's chief medical officer being harassed by two men in a park.

"I'm horrified by what has happened to Chris and the police are actually involved as well and we're also speaking to Chris to look at what we can do to support him, it's just appalling," the Home Secretary told Times Radio.

Asked if she believed Prof Whitty needed security measures, she said: "I can't speak about that but it's important that we make sure that Chris is given the right kind of support.

"It's terrible to see such an important public figure, someone that day in, day out, has been serving our country in the way in which he has to keep us safe, being subject to just appalling abuse."

See 7:56am and 8:04am for more.

07:27 AM

Update schools advice will 'accompany' new social distancing rules, says minister

Any change to the safety measures in schools will "accompany Step Four", Nick Gibb has said.

Decisions will be communicated "as soon as we possibly can," the schools standards minister. "As we move to Step Four of the roadmap, there will be revised guidance to accompany that.

"The guidance will accompany Step Four, I can't say when decisions will take place about a whole raft of other measures," Mr Gibb added. "There are a a whole series of reviews into things like social distancing.

"The timing is led by the timing of those other reviews," he adds. "But our intention has always been to make sure schools know as soon as we possibly can, if new measures are going to be put into place, or indeed if measures are going to be relaxed come Step Four of the roadmap."

07:22 AM

Nick Gibb: Covid tests will be taking place in school from September

Nick Gibb says the number of children self-isolating has increased on previous weeks, but has insisted it "correlates" with the wider community.

The schools minister said it was a priority to get pupils in the classroom, but stressed the need to reduce transmission.

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "Our priority is to have children in school, with their friends, with their teachers. But to do that you have to have these safety measures in place. That is why we continue to ask parents to make sure their children test twice a week, and report those results, whatever those results are.

"A significant number of parents are doing so and it is a way of keeping other children in school safe," he added.

Acknowledging that not all children are doing tests and home, Mr Gibb confirmed tests will be carried out in school from September.

07:18 AM

Bubbles burst? Daily test trial ends tomorrow, schools minister confirms

The trial of daily Covid tests as an alternative to self-isolation concludes tomorrow, the schools standards minister has revealed.

"It is very important that when a Covid case is identified... contacts are asked to self isolate to minimise the spread of the virus," Nick Gibb told Radio 4's Today programme.

"Currently children are asked to test themselves at home twice a week, so we can identify cases that don't show any symptoms, but we have been trailing daily contact testing whereby instead of self-isolating, they take a test every day and if it is negative they can go into school.

"The trial finishes tomorrow, will look to see if it is an effective alternative to self isolation."

07:14 AM

Matt Hancock's 'sorry saga' should prompt reform of appointments process, says Lord Kerslake

A former head of the civil service has called for the way non-executive directors are appointed to be changed in the wake of the "sorry saga" involving Matt Hancock.

Lord Bob Kerslake told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the current model did not have sufficient oversight or clarity about the nature of the role. Ministers should be able to hire non-executive directors but the process needed to be transparent and regulated, he added.

"I think the Secretary of State should appoint, as they do for permanent secretaries because actually this is their board, they chair it, and they need to have people on there that they think will help them do their role," he explained.

"But the process by which that happens needs to be properly open, fair and transparent, not just the minister waking up one morning and saying 'I would like to have X on my board'."

07:11 AM

End school bubbles before end of summer term, academies boss says

The head of a major academy of schools has urged the Government to act quickly to end the "alarming" number of pupils having to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive case.

Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis Schools, said that 10 per cent of the group's students - around 3,000 children - were out of school due to coronavirus.

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a pretty alarming situation and we would say that something needs to be done about this now. There are still three weeks of this summer terms to run - you can't just write-off the rest of the term."

Mr Chalke said there was no incentive to do the tests at home "if it is just going to penalise you in every way and put you in an impossible situation and add to your stress and anxiety".

"So yes, bringing the tests in school would be a huge step forward."

07:04 AM

Sajid Javid: Chris Whitty abuse is 'appalling and totally unacceptable'

Sajid Javid, the new Health Secretary, has said the abuse received by Professor Chris Whitty is "appalling and totally unacceptable".

The Metropolitan Police has said it is investigating after a video was shared online that appeared to show England's chief medical officer being harassed by two men in a park.

Mr Javid, a former home secretary, said it was "disgraceful" and would not be tolerated.

Watch the video below (see 7:56am).

07:02 AM

Batley and Spen 'temperature' worse than other by-elections, says Labour MP

The abuse of Labour activists campaigning in Batley and Spen underlines " a temperature in this campaign that we have not seen in previous by-elections", a senior Labour MP has said.

Ahead of this week's by-election, activists have reported being pelted with eggs and kicked in the head while on the campaign trail. West Yorkshire police are now investigating.

Yvette Cooper, chairman of the home affairs committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it was "particularly distressing" that it was happening in the constituency where MP Jo Cox was murdered.

She added: "This is very troubling, there seems to be a temperature in this campaign that we have not seen in previous by-elections, certainly in West Yorkshire more widely.... Kim Leadbeater, Jo's sister, is brave and strong in standing to be the MP and I think for this to happen there obviously makes it much harder.

"I don't think that this represents the people of Batley and Spen and we have had lots of warm conversations on the doorstep as well."

06:56 AM

Chris Whitty abuse "absolutely appalling", says minister

The abuse of England's chief medical officer as he walked through a London park is "absolutely appalling", the schools standards minister has said.

Nick Gibb said he hoped the "full weight of the law" would be brought to bear, after footage emerged of Professor Chris Whitty being hounded in the street.

"That sort of behaviour should not occur in a society like ours," he added. "It is now a matter for police investigation, and I hope the full weight of law will come down on people who engage in that behaviour.

"People should be able to walk along the street unaccosted," Mr Gibb said. "That sort of behaviour should not occur in a society like ours."

06:53 AM

Government looking at extending school day, minister confirms

A review is under way into how effective it would be to increase the length of the school day to allow children to catch up with missed learning due to the pandemic, the schools standards minister has said.

"We know that the best catch up of course happens every day in school with children at school in those classrooms," Nick Gibb told Sky News.

"But we're also conducting a review right now of the evidence about extending the school day and time spent in school to understand how that would work, how effective it would be if we were to increase the length of the school day."

06:42 AM

Michael Gove backs PM on Matt Hancock inaction

The Prime Minister was right not to sack Matt Hancock after evidence of his office affair emerged, Michael Gove has said.

The former health secretary resigned the day after photographs of him kissing advisor Gina Coladangelo were published.

Boris Johnson subsequently claimed, through his spokesman, that he "considered the matter closed" after Mr Hancock apologised to him for breaking social distancing rules with the embrace inside his Whitehall office.

But the following day the married 42-year-old West Suffolk MP announced he was resigning.

On Monday Mr Johnson appeared to claim he forced out Mr Hancock: "I read the story on Friday and we've got a new Health Secretary in post on Saturday, and I think that's about the right pace to proceed in a pandemic."

The comment triggered accusations that he was rewriting history, given that he had initially stood by Mr Hancock when the news broke.

06:41 AM

Good Morning

It's a big day in the sporting world - but there's no shortage of drama in Westminster before then.

The level of disruption in schools is proving a big headache for the Government today, with around three per cent of pupils self-isolating right now.

There are also big questions being asked about Lord Bethell, the health minister, and his use of private email to conduct government business.

Meanwhile, footage of Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, being abused on the street has sparked condemnation.

Here's today's front page.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting