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Labour condemns Williamsons staggering disregard for families as government creates renewed confusion around school return

Labour (@UKLabour) has condemned Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s staggering disregard for families as media reports suggest the return to school could be delayed for millions of young people.

With less than 10 days to go until the first pupils will return to classrooms for the new school year, parents have been told the return to school could be delayed for secondary pupils, creating renewed uncertainty and confusion for families.

This is a repeat of the chaos around the return of schools seen in January 2021, when parents were told just days before the start of term pupils return to classrooms would be delayed. This last minute decision making throughout the pandemic has also put additional pressure on school staff who have had to react to chaotic government announcements.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green MP has written to Williamson urging him to immediately clarify the announcement and implications for learning, with children already having missed an average of 115 days of school during the pandemic.

Green has also urged the Education Secretary to provide certainty around ventilation in schools and explain why the Government has only just announced provision of Co2 monitors for classrooms, 457 days after SAGE first highlighted the importance of adequate ventilation for preventing the spread of Covid.

Sector Response

Kate Green MP 100x100Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“The Conservatives chaotic, last-minute approach is damaging children’s education. Parents would rightly expect Ministers to have learnt from their mistakes over the last year, but once again families are being treated as an afterthought.

“After two years of disrupted education each day in school matters. The Conservatives’ systematic refusal to plan ahead is just not good enough. Labour is demanding better for our children’s futures.”

Paul Whiteman 100x100NAHT comments on potential staggered start to term for secondary schools due to Covid testing requirements, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Schools are simply following government guidance here. The government has once again asked secondary schools to effectively transform themselves into Covid testing centres ahead of the new school term. The reality is that there is very little in the way of meaningful support being provided for these schools and so most are having to re-deploy existing staff to oversee these complex arrangements at the start of term.

“This is a public health task, and we have repeatedly called on the government to do more to provide public health staff to implement on-site testing. The government’s guidance has always stated that schools can stagger the return of pupils across the first week to manage this. Staff in these schools will be working as hard and quickly as they can to ensure all pupils receive both tests the government says they should have prior to returning.”

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