Schools are doing a great job in extraordinary circumstances.
Just the other week I was talking to Ms Hamill at Oaks Park High School about the fantastic work her staff are doing for pupils. It’s the same story at schools across the borough. I want to say a big public thank you to her, and to all our headteachers, teachers and support staff for everything they’re doing. They have my full support.
Unfortunately their job is being made harder as a result of the chaos and incompetence we’ve seen from the education secretary, Gavin Williamson. Government should be planning now to make pupils’ return to school as smooth and as safe as possible.
Firstly, we need to get every child online. There are still around half a million children learning from home without a laptop and internet access. This is a disgrace.
Secondly, we need a plan for safe return: mass testing, PPE, temporary ‘Nightingale classrooms’ and funding for additional safety measures as required. We’re joining the four Children’s Commissioners across the UK in calling for school staff to be vaccinated during the February half term to make sure that we don’t see further disruption to education through staff sickness and absence.
Finally, we need to an ambitious plan to make sure that the life chances and opportunities of this generation aren’t held back by the last year. Investing in their education would also be a sound investment for our country. Education is the best economic policy there is.
Read my piece for the Ilford Recorder here.
Wes Streeting MP