Labour is planning to force a parliamentary vote on the government’s “totally insufficient” education catch-up plan.
The Opposition has described the £1.4bn scheme as “inadequate” – days after Sir Kevan Collins, who was advising the government on how to support children affected by school closures during the pandemic, resigned.
Sir Kevan claimed that the government has failed to provide enough money to fund a proper plan, and Sky News understands he was pushing for 10 times more money and 100 extra hours of teaching per pupil.
Some of the prime minister’s own MPs are also calling for a rethink of the package.
Labour is now seeking a policy U-turn, and is hoping to test the resolve of government backbenchers through an opposition day debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Kate Green, the shadow education secretary, said she was “shocked” at how little the plan contains, describing it as a “betrayal of our young people”.
Ms Green said: “Kevan Collins’ resignation makes it clear that the government’s education recovery plan is totally insufficient to help every child bounce back from these impacts of the pandemic.”
Announcing he was leaving the role last week, Sir Kevan had said: “A half-hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils. The support announced by government so far does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge and is why I have no option but to resign from my post.”
The £1.4bn cash promise for the government’s plan would be in addition to £1.7bn already announced – but Labour’s own proposals are said to cost £14.7bn.
A government spokesperson said: “We have committed to an ambitious, long-term education recovery plan, including an investment to date of over £3bn and a significant expansion of our tutoring programme, to support children and young people to make up for learning lost during the pandemic.”
With half-term drawing to a close for children across the UK, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has urged all secondary school pupils and their families to take a rapid COVID-19 tests before classrooms reopen.
He said: “Asymptomatic testing helps break chains of transmission by taking people who are infectious but don’t know it out of circulation.
“As the half-term comes to an end, take a COVID test before going back to the classroom.”
COVID-19 cases have risen among secondary school children in England, with some people calling for children aged 12 and over to be vaccinated.
Devi Sridhar, professor in global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The Pfizer vaccine is already being used on kids 12 and over in the US and it has just been approved in the UK.
“I think it should be rolled out in the next few weeks or months.”
She added: “Once the virus can no longer circulate among adults it’s going to circulate among children and adolescents who are unvaccinated so that’s the next debate we need to have.”