THE Government needs to “catch up” with the education recovery mission after heads have made “sacrifices” during the pandemic, the president of a school leaders’ union will urge.

Tim Bowen, president of the NAHT, will acknowledge that ­headteachers have put themselves “directly in harm’s way” to educate the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils amid Covid-19.

In a speech to the union’s ­conference tomorrow, Bowen will claim that the Government’s sense of direction during the pandemic has been “lamentable”.

He will challenge the narrative of “school closures” that was common during the height of the pandemic.

Bowen, who will open the first face-to-face annual conference for headteachers since schools were closed to most pupils in March 2020, will say: “There was no remote working for school leaders during the pandemic.

“You put yourself directly in harm’s way to keep your schools open to ­support the children of critical ­workers and those who were most vulnerable, along with the staff working with them. When little was known about the virus, other than that it was a killer, many school leaders I know were in school every single day. Until Easter this year I was one of them.

“I know how hard it has been – I know what you have given, the pressure you have been under, the courage you have shown and the sacrifices you have made. I pay tribute to you all.”

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Bowen, who is on secondment as NAHT’s president, led Maple Primary School in St ­Albans, Hertfordshire, through the majority of the pandemic.

During the conference in London, Bowen will add: “The hard work and courage of school leaders and their teams has protected some pupils from the worst excesses of the last year and a half.

“The work you have done, and continue to do now, could change a young person’s life for the better – for good.

“The recovery mission has already started. It is the Government that needs to catch up.

“Its sense of direction during the pandemic has been lamentable.

Like you, I am hoping for better with the department now under new leadership.”

In June, the schools catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins quit with a stinging condemnation of the Government’s new

£1.4 billion education ­recovery fund, which he said “falls far short of what is needed”.

Bowen will also call on the sector to do all they can “to make school leadership a realistic target for non-white professionals”, and he will stress the importance of kindness in ­education as schools emerge from the pandemic.

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He will say: “In every school ­community there have been children and families who have been brought down to their lowest point.

“A kind word, a kind deed, from us as leaders, or from the people in

the teams we lead – they are often the first steps on the way back from ­desperation.

“Kindness is not a sign of ­weakness, it is an act of strength. By our ­example, we can show the young people we work with the power of kindness. And with that power, they can begin to repair the world that has been broken.”