HACKNEY’S Mayor, Philip Glanville. has pressed the Government to be clear about how school re-openings are to take place. “We are having to step in to provide support to our schools possibly re-opening from June 1 in the absence of national guidance and clarity from the Government,” he has told the Secretary of State for Education.

He adds: “Ideally a plan would be co-produced by the Government, education sector, local authorities and the unions ─ building confidence in reopening not creating further uncertainty as is happening now.

“We have been meeting with headteachers and unions to provide advice and local public health guidance in the absence of national material. We have also been providing learning materials on top of support provided by schools.”

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney and Cabinet lead on Education, Young People and Children’s Social Care, added: “However, local support should only supplement national guidance. Given the decision to re-open schools will be made at a national level, it is the responsibility of your department in collaboration with the Department for Health & Social Care and Public Health England to provide guidance on how children and teachers can be safe at school.”

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble

In a hard-hitting letter to Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education, they say that speaking to headteachers and unions during this pandemic, they have found that many are concerned about the impact of reopening the country’s schools on the safety of their children and staff. “This has been echoed by concerns from some parents and young people.”

Cllr Bramble went on: “We held a virtual meeting of Hackney Council’s Headteachers Forum to listen to headteachers’ concerns. Following the Prime Minister’s announcements on Sunday, many are now concerned that details were released to the public about schools reopening without giving school leaders or councils proper public health guidance on social distancing.

“This guidance on health and safety is essential in order to operate a school safely and with the confidence of staff, parents and young people. It is in this context that we support the National Education Union’s tests and position that without it, schools should not prepare to re-open.”

These five tests are:
1. Much lower numbers of coronavirus cases than the current levels
2. A national plan for social distancing and appropriate PPE
3. Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff
4. Whole school strategies and protocols where cases appear
5. Protection for the most vulnerable to continue to self-isolate

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor have told The Education Secretary: “Schools will need clear messages about how to support children of families who continue to self-isolate because a member of their household is shielding, as well as children in year groups who do not return to school.

“Should these children need to continue to stay at home or self-isolate with their families, home schooling support will be needed, especially for those who are living in cramped households.

“Hackney Council is stepping in to provide support in the absence of national guidance and clarity from the Government. We have been meeting with headteachers and unions to provide advice and local public health guidance in the absence of national material. We have also been providing learning materials on top of support provided by schools.”

  • They have also reminded the Government about providing free school meals. They urge the Government to be clear to schools and parents about how free school meal vouchers are to be issued as some children return to school and others are still at home including for families with no recourse to public funds.

“It is clear that even if schools do return in June, it will only be for a limited number of year groups and so this issue of holiday hunger over the summer remains,” added Cllr Bramble.

See previous pressure on Government concerning holiday hunger –

https://www.hackney-labour.org.uk/stop-childrens-holiday-hunger-labour-tells-the-government/

Check out the letter to Gavin Williamson –

17 – MCO200514─01 Letter to Rt Hon Gavin Williamson RE schools re-opening (1) 17 may 20

17 May 2020

 

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