This evening (4 Jan) the Prime Minister announced tougher lockdown measures in England.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “The decision to restrict access to schools to gain control of the spread of the virus has been inevitable for some time. The announcement this evening will bring some much needed clarity to the situation but it is a decision that should have been taken much sooner.
“Besides parents and carers there is no one more committed to the education and welfare of children than school leaders and their teams. NAHT members want children back in school as soon as possible.
“No time should be wasted in preparing for an orderly and sustainable return. The case for prioritising the school workforce for vaccination, alongside other key workers, is strong, in order to help facilitate a speedy return to face to face education.
“I call upon the government to urgently engage with the profession to determine what new arrangements should be put in place in schools, in light of the changing nature of the virus, to keep staff, pupils and their families safe. These measures must be funded in full.
“It has become clear to all that a centralised, prescriptive approach is too constrained. The government must urgently review its approach to special schools, Alternative Provision and Maintained Nursery Schools to protect all staff and pupils in those communities.
“The government must also urgently clarify its plans for Early Years providers. Tonight’s announcement will raise as many questions as answers for the dedicated professionals working with our youngest learners. It must bring certainty for them without delay.
“NAHT members stand ready to work with government for the good of all children. The most pressing priority is to minimise the impact of lockdown on low income and vulnerable families.
“The government must properly support the home learning effort to make it as good as it can be. That includes delivering on the promises of technology and learning resources but also allowing flexibility for school leaders to respond to their circumstances.
“In recognising that there will have to be major alterations to plans for GCSEs and A Levels this year, the government has thankfully, and not a moment too soon, acknowledged what the profession has been saying for some time. We must have a robust set of arrangements that command public confidence. A repeat of the chaos of 2020 must not be allowed.”
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