Today, school leaders’ union NAHT gathers for a virtual Annual Conference. It comes as the Education Policy Institute (EPI) publishes a new report into how well the governments in Wales, Northern Ireland and England have reacted to coronavirus.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “In different ways, confusion and delay have beset the administrations in Wales, Northern Ireland and England. As a result, young people have had an extremely raw deal, often seemingly an afterthought for government. To avoid irreparable damage to a generation, policy-makers must bring children and young people to the front of the queue for help.
“It is, of course, the pupils who we were most concerned about before the pandemic who seem to have had the worst of it during lockdown. But we should remember that this ‘disadvantage gap’ existed long before the pandemic. Lockdown has brought the gap into focus, and may well have widened it for some young people, but it did not create it.
“Unfortunately schools were already struggling to provide everything children need before this crisis, damaged as they and other social services have been by a decade of austerity. If schools are to play their part in healing the scars left by covid-19, be that educational, developmental or emotional, they must be given the additional support, funding and resources they need to do so.
“During our Conference on Friday, we will be calling on the government to fully fund all of the safety measures that schools have been required to take. It must be baffling to some parents that the government is not providing any additional money for this.
“For this coming year, governments across the UK must learn from their mistakes – young people deserve a proper plan for once. Unfortunately there are few signs that the authorities who presided over this year’s chaos have learned the right lessons or are acting quickly enough to avoid another mess.”
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