Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

UK parents divided over sending kids back to school – ‘Russian roulette with our children’

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Parent’s concerns range from children maintaining social distancing measures, pupils motivations and the risks of catching the coronavirus.

So far, only Reception, year 1 and year 6 have returned to school during lockdown.

Speaking to the Guardian, one frustrated parent suggested “the Government is playing Russian roulette with our children.”

Susan Wright, 45, said: “My 14-year-old child is a Send student – special educational needs and disabilities – and she’s really happy at home.

“I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but lots of children are really flourishing, particularly Send pupils who are in mainstream schools.

“My daughter attends a special school that is fantastic for autism.

“They have far fewer children, but their needs are very different.

“Those children can be impulsive, they may need physical contact, and not be able to socially distance.”

Gary Jones suggested his daughter’s education was being neglected as a result of home-schooling measures.

Mr Jones, said: “There’s been very little direct contact with the school. There’s no sense that our daughter’s work is being marked, and she’s not getting any feedback, so it’s becoming really difficult to stay motivated.

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“We try our best, but with our jobs we can’t dedicate the time to her education that we’d like.

“At first it was a novelty, like a summer holiday, but now we can see there’s a withdrawal.

“She’s our only child, so there isn’t even that sibling contact, and that’s really difficult.

“She’s in touch with her close mates, but she’s missing out on the wider, social importance of being with other children on a day-to-day basis.

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“We can see the damage that not going to school is having far more clearly than the perceived damage of the virus.”

The Government is preparing a “massive catch up” operation for children not returning to school this term.

Set to take place over the next couple of months, the catch-up plan includes summer camps, a national tutoring service and extra funds.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised on Wednesday a “massive catch-up operation over the summer and beyond” for pupils who have been absent from school.

The Education Secretary is poised to reveal further details on the catch-up plan next week.

The former chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw has encouraged teachers to do more to help their pupils.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme he said: “We’ve got to make sure that really effective recovery programmes are put into place over the summer holidays.

“I speak not just as an ex-head of Ofsted but an ex-head teacher of a secondary school.

What I would be doing is I would be appealing to staff to come in over the summer holidays and take classes for those youngsters who need it.”

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