Redbridge education chief demands more action to protect schools from Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 November 2020

Town hall education chiefs have demanded more action to keep schools safe in the pandemic. Picture: Jacob King/PA

Town hall education chiefs have demanded more action to keep schools safe in the pandemic. Picture: Jacob King/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

The town hall’s education chief has demanded the government do more to protect schools from Covid-19.

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for Children and Young PeopleCllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for Children and Young People

Cllr Elaine Norman, Redbridge Council cabinet member for children and young people, joined 18 counterparts from London boroughs calling for a range of measures.

These include providing money to hire cover teachers to replace self-isolating staff; the same access to Covid-19 tests as NHS workers and free meals to cover school holidays.

The education chiefs also urged the government to honour a promise to supply laptops and wifi for children from deprived backgrounds who are isolating at home.

The demands were sent to education secretary Gavin Williamson in a letter which states: “We are extremely proud of the efforts to keep learning made by our children, their families and the education staff who support them.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA.Education secretary Gavin Williamson. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA.

“As we are sure you would agree, our collective duty as the local and central government is to give them the tools they need to continue to do this most important work as safely as is possible.”

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Cllr Norman said: “Children were able to return to school safely, mainly due to the incredible efforts of teachers and local authorities.

“But we’ve seen that many children now have to take additional time away from school to self-isolate due to this pandemic’s disruptive impact.

“Therefore, the government must provide appropriate funding to our schools, so children have continued access to the technology, equipment, and PPE that will allow them to continue their academic studies safely, whether in school or at home.

“Our disadvantaged children and young people have suffered enough, and money should not get in the way of them continuing the education they so desperately require and deserve,” Cllr Norman added.

A Department for Education spokesperson said on average costs to schools to become Covid-secure will have been a relatively small proportion of their core funding for each pupil.

For secondaries this has increased to a minimum of £5,150 – the first year of the biggest increase to core school funding in a decade.

“On top of the core funding schools are receiving, and continued to receive throughout the pandemic, we provide pupil premium funding worth £2.4billion each year to support the most disadvantaged pupils.

“Our £1bn covid catch up fund has provision both for additional tutoring targeted at the most disadvantaged, and flexible funding for schools to use to help all their pupils make up for lost education,” she added.

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