Commenting on news that the government has enacted a Temporary Continuity Direction, to make legal the expectations around remote education, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“We are extremely disappointed that the government has taken this step. Every indication we have is that schools are taking seriously their preparation for partial or full closure and taking steps to ensure they meet and exceed government and parental expectations for remote education, should circumstances require it.
“Right now, government action should be focused wholly on support, not sanction – the carrot, not the stick. Bitter experience tells us that mandating compliance to a minimum criteria is a poor way of driving quality and excellence in a system. It will stifle much needed innovation and limit ambition.
“There is absolutely no reason to believe that emergency powers are required to compel schools to act. By reaching for legal powers, government risks sending an unequivocal message to the profession and parents that they do not trust school leaders to act in the interests of young people in this country.
“At every step, school leaders have done what was asked of them, and then gone beyond. School leaders have worked tirelessly to put in place robust plans to return young people to education. This will be perceived as a cynical attempt by government to look strong by acting tough. It will be seen as a slap-in-the-face to school leaders, destroying any good-will remaining, and is likely to live long in the memory of all education professionals.”
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