Commenting on the Education Secretary’s COVID-19 briefing on 19 April 2020, Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice: The Union for Education Professionals, said:
“We welcome the Secretary of State for Education’s statement, which provided some clarity following press speculation about the possibility of schools re-opening soon. Such speculation was premature, misleading, and generated anxiety across the school workforce.
“We also welcome the announcements on home learning resources and laptops for disadvantaged students.
“However, these positive measures and messages are in stark contrast to the shocking way childcare providers have been treated over the financial support available to them. The Government’s latest guidance has put the future of settings, and the jobs of many of those who work in them, at risk.
“Once again, it appears the early years sector has been treated as a second class service by the Government, despite its key role and the dedication of its staff, who will be essential to the economic recovery of the country after the pandemic. ”
Commenting on when education and early years settings should reopen to all children and students, Deborah Lawson said:
“While there must be a carefully planned lockdown exit strategy, which includes when education and early years settings can re-open, the end is not yet in sight.
“Before schools, colleges and nurseries can reopen, there are many issues that must be addressed, not least the safety of pupils, staff and their families. The health, safety and wellbeing of all of those involved must be paramount.
“The Government’s current position is that schools and other settings will reopen when scientific advice indicates it is safe to do so. We support that strategy, and engage with ministers and the DfE on all plans for the eventual lifting of restrictions.
“If social distancing is to continue after the end of lockdown, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to maintain in schools.”
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