Commenting on the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:
“The lack of detail in the strategy raises more questions than it answers and leaves our members deeply worried.
“We will take part in the forthcoming consultation on the promised detailed guidance, and measure it against our own position on what Voice would like to see before schools and nurseries reopen. We will publish our response as soon as possible.
"The health, safety, and wellbeing of all children and staff in schools and nurseries must be paramount. There is no one-size-fits all.
“Voice supports the Government’s strategy to follow scientific evidence and advice, but the absence of any mention of the evidence and advice in the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday demonstrated a lack of respect for the education and early education and childcare workforce which will not promote confidence or co-operation.
“The omission of any mention of the early years and wider opening of nurseries in the address on Sunday, and the passing mention in the strategy, fail to recognise the essential role of the sector to enable parents to return to work and restart the economy.”
"The rate of infection remains too high to allow the reopening of schools for all pupils yet. However, it is important that vulnerable children (including children in need, those with an Education, Health and Care plan and those assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities) and the children of critical workers are able to attend school, as is currently permitted. Approximately 2% of children are attending school in person, although all schools are working hard to deliver lessons remotely.
"But there is a large societal benefit from vulnerable children, or the children of critical workers, attending school: local authorities and schools should therefore urge more children who would benefit from attending in person to do so.
"The Government is also amending its guidance to clarify that paid childcare, for example nannies and childminders, can take place subject to being able to meet the public health principles at Annex A [Staying safe outside your home], because these are roles where working from home is not possible. This should enable more working parents to return to work."
“In addition to COVID-19 Secure guidelines for workplaces, the Government will consult on and release similar guidelines for schools, prisons, and other public spaces.”
Details on phased wider opening of schools, colleges and nurseries 11 May 2020 Press release DfE
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and other educational settings 11 May 2020 Collection Cabinet Office, DfE and PHE
Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings 11 May 2020 Guidance DfE
Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 11 May 2020 Guidance DfE
Voice comments on Prime Minister’s address (10 May 2020)