Last reviewed 28 August 2020

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced a multi-million pound package of funding to boost early language skills.

Schools are being urged to sign up for an early years “catch up” programme focused on raising outcomes in speaking and language skills among young children whose education has been disrupted by Covid-19 at a crucial time for their development.

The programme will have up to £9 million of funding available to provide schools with training and resources, and to help deliver one-to-one and small-group support for five-year-olds whose spoken language skills may have suffered as a result of the pandemic.

The funding is part of the National Tutoring Programme and £1 billion catch-up package announced in June. Every state-funded school with a Reception class will be invited to apply for this support, with priority given to schools with a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said:

“Nurseries and other early years settings have played a huge part in keeping our youngest children safe and supported throughout the pandemic, but too many children have missed out on education at a crucial point in their development.”

“Ahead of every pupil returning to the classroom full-time in September, we’re increasing the support available to get them back on track and ready to learn.”

“We cannot afford for our youngest children to lose out, which is why this package of support is focused on improving early language skills for the Reception children who need it most, and especially those whose long-term outcomes who have been affected by time out of education.”

In addition, the DfE has also confirmed supplementary funding of more than £23 million for maintained nursery schools for the summer term 2021. Maintained nursery schools often care for higher numbers of disadvantaged pupils most at risk of falling behind, and tend to have higher running costs. The funding for the summer term is intended to provide stability for the full academic year, ahead of longer-term arrangements being set out in the Government’s Spending Review.