Let’s get Children learning again

School’s out and Mums and Dads have been converted into teachers. Our Children’s spokesperson, Cllr Liz Makinson, is suggesting that schools could be doing more to help their absent pupils access great stuff on the internet but should not be rushed in to a full reopening.

On the day that Liverpool’s children should have been returning to school after their Easter break Liverpool’s Lib Dem Children’s Spokesperson, Cllr Liz Makinson, has suggested that schools should not be considering reopening  and that children and school staff should not be endangered to kick start the economy.

Cllr Makinson says, “As a teacher myself I am alarmed at the idea that schools should reopen quickly. Children can infect members of their family after picking up the virus in school and of course schools only run because there are teachers, classroom assistants, cooks, lunchtime supervisors, site staff and cleaners. There will also be many of them, like me who are targeted for a long lock down with underlying conditions or are self-isolating because of immediate health problems for themselves or within their families. We are, therefore, some way off letting children back into their school in the normal way.  The work of the hubs in enabling key workers to do their jobs without worry about their children is vitally important.

I am shocked that the new Labour leader Keir Starmer is pushing for schools to be among the first to reopen after the lockdown.  I would challenge him to visit an inner city comprehensive at full capacity (even with Year 11 and 13 omitted) and see how effective social distancing would be.  I also believe that economic circumstances do not necessarily dictate who is getting good home schooling.   Yes, there will be children who are getting more home schooling than others.  However, our first priority is children’s physical and mental health.  The trauma of classmates or their teacher dying will have far greater consequences for a child than missing some schooling.

However, I am also aware that this lockdown presents challenges to our children and parents.  Schools increasingly have online platforms so that children can study at home and they should be made good use of in this period. I am aware that prior to the lockdown, schools were providing online materials so that children could learn from home. Teachers are aware that children will need time to settle down after this into a school routine; imagine if they are trying to do this with illness and deaths within the school community. 

2020 is a year of reading in Liverpool.  Although the planned activities for this cannot sadly now go ahead, the spirit of the programme is now more essential than ever.  We should look at ways of getting books to children, especially to lower income families, along with looking at the feasibility of kindles for those same children so that they can take full advantage of the library kindle service.

There are so many inspiring activities online for children.  In our own city, The Western Approaches are holding weekly sessions about the Second World War and they are available online afterwards. From today, the BBC will have a full programme of educational material.    

No one is suggesting that this is an ideal situation for our children; however our primary duty is to safeguard their health.  A schools first reopening strategy will not do this.

So today I have written to the Director of Children’s Services and the Cabinet Member to ask them to consider these issues and how we can use our year of reading to help families during this crisis.

ENDS

Cllr Makinson can be contacted on 07939 119402

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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