Boris Johnson now needs a military-style plan to keep every child in school, says Tory MP ROBERT HALFON
We have just had the school holidays, so pupils do not need to take any more time off.
Every day lost is another day that we are damaging children’s lives, even if it is a few days here, a few days there.
Just before Christmas we had 230,000 children out of school. We cannot repeat that. Are we going to get our children educated again or are we not?
The priority should be having the children in schools. It shouldn’t be about remote learning and children missing yet more days.
Remote learning is a poor substitute to classrooms. There are huge variations among schools over remote learning – we know disadvantaged pupils learn the least, and are less likely to have access to a laptop and the internet.
Just before Christmas we had 230,000 children out of school. We cannot repeat that. Are we going to get our children educated again or are we not? A pupil is pictured above in Cardiff
Even if the Government supplies the laptops, you’ve got to get the kids to open them.
It also puts an enormous burden on the parents, because what happens if they have to go to work? They’re not permanent secretaries in the Department for Culture who can work from their Peloton bike.
My constituents are not at home, they’re working hard going out in their vans. They are making deliveries, they work in factories.
The whole engine of the Government must now be focused on keeping children in schools.
There should be a plan – equivalent to a military campaign – with a database of every school in the country.
They should set up emergency taskforces to help schools that are having problems, and make sure schools have the ventilation systems, the supply teachers and the testing they need.
My constituents are not at home, they’re working hard going out in their vans. They are making deliveries, they work in factories; writes Robert Halfon (pictured)
If there are individual problems in those schools, of teacher absences or whatever it may be, the taskforce should work with the local authorities and academies to help with supply teachers, volunteer teachers or possibly having joint classes with other schools nearby.
The Education Secretary should be ringing up schools directly and asking, what is it you need to keep schools open? How can we help you?
The Department of Education should act like a facilitator, so we do not just leave schools to fend for themselves.
The attitude should be that if it’s not impossible, there must be a way to do it, rather than a ‘computer says no’ approach.
If children end up missing more days off school, we are destroying their lives, their life chances, their educational attainment, their wellbeing and, most significantly, their mental health.
This has got to stop – we need to have our kids in school. Forget about Covid, we will have a mental health epidemic among young kids if we are not careful.
And Boris Johnson should make it absolutely clear that keeping schools open is a priority.