Calling for a national plan to support families in lockdown

The Government has announced their intention for schools to re-open on 8 March at the earliest. Their failure to deliver on the promises that they made to support families in remote learning and home schooling is simply not good enough. We all want schools to re-open as soon as it is safe and possible to do so, but whilst children are learning from home the Government needs to deliver.We need a national plan to support families in lockdown. Labour is calling for: plan to get every child online right to flexible furlough cancel the cut to Universal Credit vaccination of key workers plan for safe return to classrooms I spoke to Westminster Hour about government laptop provision and the need to ensure a safe return to formal education.

Educational resources

As a former teacher, I know how challenging remote learning can be. The next few weeks will be difficult, but there are some fantastic resources available that I wanted to share which I hope will be helpful.PE with Joe returned this morning. Classes will be livestreamed free on YouTube every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9am: Today the BBC will launch its biggest ever educational offer, with 3 hours of primary programming on CBBC from 9am every day, at least two hours a day for secondary students on BBC2, and Bitesize episodes on iPlayer. More info is available at: Mobile networks are offering increased data allowances for children who don't have broadband at home and who have seen their face-to-face teaching disrupted. Find out more:

My thoughts on the reopening of schools

Last week I met with the National Education Union (NEU) to discuss the challenges facing teachers, parents and students as schools return to school. They highlighted the impact of lost learning during lockdown, the importance of a safe return, and the work they are doing to support schools.   Over the last six months I have been in regular contact with not just the NEU but head teachers and the local authority. Our children and young people need to get back to the classroom, for their mental health and their education.I am deeply concerned about the increasing attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and those from more affluent areas. That gap is no longer closing, months out of the classroom during lockdown will have affected less advantaged young people with less access to online lessons. It’s crucial that this doesn’t continue and young people are back in school full time.Labour have consistently argued that schools need to fully re-open to ensure all young people, but especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can get back into the classroom. We must ensure that schools have all the help and resources they need to reopen safely. There should be clear guidance, improved PPE for staff and teachers and a fully functioning test, track and trace system in place.    We can’t afford any more u-turns and indecision; the Government has stalled on this for too long and our young people are being left behind. Consistent messaging and guidance is crucial so that parents can have confidence that students will be safe as they return to school.   If anyone has any concerns or issues they would like to raise please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Travel South Yorkshire school transport survey

Ahead of children returning to school in the autumn, Travel South Yorkshire are asking parents and carers to fill out this survey.It's anonymous and will help SYPTE plan transport services so everyone can get to school safely and on-time.

My thoughts on plans to reopen schools

Thanks to all those who have written to me about the proposed re-opening of schools and thanks also to those headteachers who have replied to my email asking for their thoughts on this matter. I share many of the concerns they have shared with me.   I will be working closely with local schools who are on the frontline, supporting them with any concerns they have, so that when more children in Barnsley return to school it is safe to do so.   There are many problems with the current plan to re-open schools on the 1st June and this week I met with the National Education Union. They have stated a number of conditions which must be met for schools to return safely, including testing, social distancing and lower levels of cases in the community.   I have also raised the concerns of constituents directly with the Minister for Children and Families, discussing the very real fear people feel about this issue. It is clear that the Government must work collaboratively with school leaders, trade unions, governors, parents and carers to come up with practical safety conditions that must be met before schools can be reopened.   From the outset of this crisis I have been worried about those children who are being left behind while the schools are closed. Learning online is not always a level playing field, and some children are losing out on vital learning simply because they do not have the resources at home to complete school work. When schools open it will not be like before, social distancing measures are likely to continue for some time. We need to make sure that disadvantaged and vulnerable children do not miss out as we adjust to new ways of working and educating. I have pressed the Government on what support and resources they are offering to schools and disadvantaged children to make online learning work.   I would like to offer my thanks to teachers across the country, who have been working around the clock to provide online lessons and support for students at home.

Home schooling resources

Click here for some helpful online resources for parents and carers who are currently home-schooling their kids.

Educational resources

This is the first week that children are at home instead of school due to Coronavirus.I know many parents are stressed about their children falling behind so I've pulled together some educational resources that might be useful.The Literacy Trust has created The Family Zone, a one-stop shop for parents and their kids. It's got lots of helpful resources to aid reading, writing and language development: Bitesize offers resources that are divided into subject and age categories. This website is likely to be updated in the coming few days with more content: Twinkle has given parents free access to its website for a month. It has SEN and EAL teaching resources and is divided by age categories: TED-Ed has video-based lessons (organised by age group), and a daily newsletter: BrainPop is offering free access while schools are closed to its animated movies on topics in maths, science and English: Tynker is giving kids free online coding courses during school closures: Joe Wicks, aka the Body Coach, is doing a daily PE session at 9am, which is a great way to start the day! If you missed them over the last couple of days, you can still check them out on his YouTube channel:

Government guidance

The Government has issued advice in a range of areas for schools, staff, parents, carers and students.You can access the Government guidance here.