Last reviewed 19 July 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced programmes targeted at pupils starting primary and secondary school, who will take part in focused English and maths catch-up sessions.

Those in participating schools are set to benefit from a £10 million scheme under which specialist training and materials will be provided to support focused sessions to boost numeracy and literacy skills and help pupils catch up in these core subjects.

Schools with high proportions of children from disadvantaged backgrounds will be prioritised for the schemes in order to support those most impacted by the disruption to education.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: “This programme is designed to support schools in using evidenced-based methods proven to give children the best start to their education.”

The department has launched an information site for parents, to support children of all age ranges and abilities and to help them to catch up on lost learning from the pandemic.

This can be found here and includes advice and support for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as well as programmes for the summer.


For maths, participating schools will receive fully funded training to deliver focused sessions. The sessions (covering Reception, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 7) will help children to have a strong grasp of numbers by the end of Key Stage 1, while the Year 7 programme will focus on supporting a secure start to secondary school maths.

The programmes are based on the DfE’s successful “Teaching for Mastery” programme and curriculum guidance. The training and resources will be provided to participating schools by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM), in partnership with local Maths Hubs across the country.

See the NCETM website for more information.


For English, eligible primary schools will receive up to £6000 each for validated phonics programmes, along with additional training and support days for teachers to support the delivery of these programmes.

The focus will be on systematic synthetic phonics, seen as a highly effective method for teaching early reading and an important component in the development of early reading skills, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A number of English Hubs working across the country will allocate funding to eligible primary schools in selected Local Authority Districts and support them to purchase training and resources for one of the phonics programmes on the DfE’s validated list, all of which have been quality assured by an expert panel.

See the English Hubs website for more information.