At the point of writing this article, Gavin Williamson and the Tory Government are coming under increased pressure to close all schools, including primaries for the next two weeks. The National Education Union are advising members ‘it is unsafe to return to work.’
With the exception of the Tory Government, there is little argument that we need to protect children and school staff from the rising cases of Covid-19. The Government’s lack of strategic direction on how to manage schools during Covid times has resulted in the shambolic approach we see now.
Perhaps the greatest fear of all, however, is the long-term impact to learning and the social well-being for our children. The Government has been unable and unwilling to work with school leaders and Teacher Unions to devise a comprehensive strategy on ‘remote learning’. Many parents of children who attend state schools say they have not received the support they require to recreate the classroom at home. Substandard worksheets and a lack of online teacher face to face time was met with parent and teacher frustration alike. Meanwhile, many private schools are buying into the latest online learning technologies, providing regular live teaching time and giving marking and feedback on work completed during closure periods.
Inequality in education is the hallmark of a Tory Government, and it has been no different during Covid-19. As we face necessary school closures, the need to campaign for emergency funding for State Schools is an absolute necessity. Schools are desperate to support children receive the very best remote learning possible and teachers have been working their hardest to do so. The technologies, know-how and expertise exist. The only thing missing is a Government with the vision and the will to eradicate inequality in education, protect children and school staff and fund a World class remote learning service.