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.