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The Guardian view on schools: ministers failing children | Editorial

Gavin Williamson is a weak leader. But families and teachers have been let down by the government as a whole

As English schools reopen for the autumn, relief and pleasure are mixed with apprehension and anger. Given the government’s shabby record on shepherding schools through the pandemic, it could be no other way. Even now, with a new term under way, confusion surrounds the question of whether younger teenagers are to be vaccinated. The health secretary, Sajid Javid, and his counterparts in the devolved administrations, are seeking advice from the chief medical officers, which could override last week’s decision by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation not to support a full rollout.

The catch-up budget for England, of £50 per year per pupil, is so small as to be an insult (by contrast, the Education Policy Institute pointed out, the US government has committed to spending an additional £1,600 per pupil, and the Netherlands £2,500). This decision led Sir Kevan Collins to resign as catch-up tsar four months after being appointed. Sir Kevan thought he had secured a commitment to a £15bn package, only to be offered £1.4bn instead.

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