Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about schools and colleges remaining open during the second lockdown. I know this is a key issue for many students, parents, teachers and other staff.
Firstly, I apologise for sending a mass response, but I have received a huge number of emails on this and wanted to reply as quickly as possible.
It is clear that the Government’s incompetence risks completely undermining the work that was done in schools and colleges across the country to prepare for reopening. The testing system is falling apart, making it impossible for pupils and staff to get the tests they need and leading to far too many pupils having to stay away from school. Urgent action must be taken to address this, otherwise it will be impossible for every child and young person to access the education they need.
Throughout the pandemic, my Labour colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the Government to make test and trace fit for purpose, and to ensure that every pupil or student who is not in school/with their education provider can access learning remotely, so that nobody loses out on their education through this Government’s incompetence.
In my capacity as Shadow Minister for Disabled People, I have also called on ministers to ensure that pupils who are shielding have access to the technology they need to continue their learning from home.
As you may be aware, last week Keir Starmer said he wants to ensure that schools, colleges and universities can stay open during the new lockdown, as the potential damage to young people’s education and well-being is huge. That said, schools must be able to operate safely and we are proposing that this could be done through on-site or local testing.
I know that, like me, you are greatly concerned about the futures of our young people and the ever-widening attainment gap. I will continue to do all I can to press the Government to ensure that education can continue safely and with a minimum amount of disruption. I know that Lewisham Council has also been working closely with local schools and colleges.
If you feel I can be of further assistance with your or your family’s specific situation, please do let me know.