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Catch-up plans worth £1.4bn for school pupils in England have been accused of being a "damp squib" by head teachers.

The funding will mostly be spent on tutoring sessions to make up for learning lost in the pandemic.

But the plans are much more limited than the £13.5bn which the Education Policy Institute (EPI) had calculated would be required.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We will do everything we can to support children who have fallen behind."

Tutor sessions
The catch-up plan, with £1.4bn extra over three years in addition to the £1.7bn already announced, will include £1bn for 100 million hours of tutoring and £250m for teacher training and development.

media captionEducation Secretary Gavin Williamson: 'Strong case' for longer school days
Tutoring will be targeted at those considered most in need of support, often provided in small groups, but it will not be an entitlement for all pupils.

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The EPI, which warned primary pupils had lost up to two months of learning in reading and three months in maths, said the extra funding amounted to £50 per pupil per year - a tenth of what it estimated was needed.

The support was lower than in other countries, said the think tank, with catch-up funding in England, including earlier announcements, worth £310 per pupil over three years, compared with £1,600 in the United States and £2,500 in the Netherlands.

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Parent's view: 'The day is long enough'
Elizabeth, a mother of two from Worcester, welcomed the idea of more help for children in class.

"I want children to be supported in school and extra teachers - and the children split into smaller groups with additional classroom support is always going to be a good thing."

But she does not want children to be put under too much pressure.

"We don't want to cram in the curriculum, we want children to enjoy learning and not put pressure on pupils or teachers to do more in the school day.

"For my children the day is long enough - five days a week 9am to 3.30pm. They come home and they are knackered, particularly my eldest who has started high school - there is so much for him to take in and absorb.

"If the day was extended to 4.30pm they would come home, have their tea, do their homework and there would be very little down-time.

"I did read some of the plans may have included after-school clubs like music, that's a good thing but not to do more curriculum learning."

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There had been reports the recovery plan would be much bigger and include a longer school day - but funding for any further catch-up proposals will now depend on the next spending review.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that an extended school day was "very much still on the agenda".

Asked about whether the funding was less than required, Mr Williamson said the catch-up plan was based on the evidence of what works - and that tutoring "does actually deliver" and should not be the "preserve of a few".

He said the £1.4bn was a "pretty hefty amount" and would "have a direct impact on children".

Suggestions of shorter summer holidays were no longer being considered, said the education secretary.

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St Wilfrid's sixth formers
image captionAt St Wilfrid's in Crawley students had wanted more "certainty" rather than longer hours and extra initiatives
Pupils' view: 'End the uncertainty'
The hesitation over plans for an extended school day would not have been seen as much as a loss to sixth formers at St Wilfrid's Catholic school in Crawley, West Sussex.

They wanted a return to normality and "certainty" after so much upheaval, rather than adding extra hours which could leave students tired rather than inspired.

"It feels like the pandemic has been constant pressure and uncertainty," said Katelan, a Year 12 student.

"The most important thing the government could give us as students is clarity. And clarity early on and not just a few months before we're due to take the exams," says Catherine, expecting to take her A-levels next summer.

The pupils were "delighted" to be back in the classroom in March, rather than relying on online lessons - and if tutoring is going to be provided they want it to be in-person rather than online.

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