Commenting ahead of tonight's Westminster Hall debate following a public petition about school closures, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School leaders are concerned that there will be a further and potentially steep drop in attendance figures next week, as families are forced to decide for themselves how long to isolate before getting together at Christmas.
“The government has decided to relax the rules about getting together over the Christmas holidays in order to give people the chance to see loved ones and have as normal a celebration as possible. This strategy has put schools and parents between a rock and hard place.
“On the one hand, every day of school this year is important because pupils have already missed so much time in class. But on the other, the government has passed responsibility for making careful Covid safety decisions on to parents.
“It is only natural that many parents will prioritise family safety over attending school in the last few days of term and keep their children at home. The government cannot continue to pretend to be oblivious to the consequences of their decision. Once again, government thinking is far behind the impossible decisions facing families.
“We are calling for the government to give schools the flexibility to work with parents and make arrangements that best suit their individual circumstances. Giving schools the flexibility to switch to remote learning for the final few days of term seems an obvious and straightforward solution. But if the government has another solution it needs to be announced in the next twenty-four hours, otherwise there is huge potential for a chaotic and disruptive end to this term.”
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