Former Covid education recovery tsar returns to DfE

Sir Kevan Collins, the former Covid education recovery tsar who quit in a row over the previous government’s “half-hearted” plan to boost post-pandemic learning, has returned to the Department for Education as an advisor
Former Covid education recovery tsar returns to DfE
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Sir Kevan Collins, the former Covid education recovery tsar who quit in a row over the previous government’s “half-hearted” plan to boost post-pandemic learning, has returned to the Department for Education as an advisor.

Sir Kevan Collins was education recovery tsar for five months after quitting in protest. Picture: DfE
Sir Kevan Collins was education recovery tsar for five months after quitting in protest. Picture: DfE

Sir Kevan Collins held the role for just five months before resigning over then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s £1.4bn Covid recovery plan.

Collins had advised government that £15bn was needed to mitigate the impact of school closures on children and young people.

In his resignation letter, Collins said Johnson’s package did “not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge”.

New Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson has now announced Collins’ return to DfE as a non-executive board member amid a restructure of the department.

The former chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) will sit on a board which “provides scrutiny across delivery and performance, supporting and challenging the department” for three years.
  
He said: “I am delighted to be returning to the Department of Education. “There are real challenges facing our schools and I am looking forward to being part of a renewed drive to ensure that we tackle these with bold and fresh new ideas, to deliver high and rising standards in every corner of the country.”  
  
Collins will advise on “driving high and rising standards” with a focus on finding solutions to barriers including teacher shortages and high absence rates.Phillipson said: “Sir Kevan has been an outstanding force for good in schools, especially his work advocating for our teachers and children during the pandemic and he will play a crucial role in advising the department.”
  
She also confirmed a restructure within DfE which will see responsibility for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) moved away from the children and families portfolio to schools.
  
The shift is designed to improve focus on delivering recommendations from the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan which was published in March last year following a review of services.
  
Phillipson confirmed that the decision has been made in a bid to “ensure that improving inclusion in mainstream schools is the heart of our plans to improve opportunity for those children with SEND […] with earlier interventions in mainstream schools key for those with less complex needs.”
  
Last week the Education Secretary, who is MP for Houghton and Sunderland, vowed to prioritise children’s social care reform during the next parliament and reiterated Labour's general election campaign pledges to boost breakfast club and childcare provision, expand speech and language support, reform Ofsted and improve mental health support for children.
  
Meanwhile, DfE has named several MPs as ministers but is yet to confirm their portfolios.Catherine McKinnell is expected to be named as schools minister, according to Schools Week, while Stephen Morgan had appeared to confirm his responsibility for childcare and early years on X.
  
Written by Fiona Simpson

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