Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Nothing could have prepared school leaders and their teams for the year they have just experienced, but overwhelmingly they have stepped up to the plate in remarkable ways to help pupils and keep education going.
“What this year has proved is that individual schools are much quicker and better at finding solutions to difficult problems than central government. All too often, the guidance issued by government was too late or too confusing to be of much use.
“The most difficult aspects of the COVID response and the biggest calls to make on behalf of pupils were almost always passed onto school leaders’ shoulders. Thankfully, they have been more than equal to this challenge and this unprecedented effort needs to be recognised.
“The next few months are critical. Young people need to be properly supported with the right levels of funding and the right forms of intervention. The morale of an exhausted but proud teaching profession needs to be restored. Without these things, even with a hopefully reduced threat from COVID, the situation will be very challenging.
“We need to remember that the education system in this country, like a lot of other public services, was in a difficult financial state before the pandemic. New investment is vital. Education was not serving the needs of all pupils equally across the country. A year on from the start of the pandemic, just returning to normal would be a huge missed opportunity to do things better.”
For details on NAHT’s campaign for a fair, safe and sustainable return for young people and their schools, see:
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