Councillor Keith Orrell, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, has written to the Schools Minister to urge the Government to provide comprehensive support to schools and teachers ahead of the expected announcement on school reopening.
With children expected to return to in-person education on the 8th of March, Cllr Orrell is urging Ministers to work on implementing the following support measures to ensure that children can return to in-person education in a safe and structured manner:
1. Government must collaborate with school leaders and their teams to make sure that there is a workable plan, which includes reviewing all of the safety measures that schools have been using.
2. More funding must be allocated to schools to implement these measures effectively, including for paying supply teachers, additional spaces and appropriate PPE equipment.
3. All teachers and other school staff, like teaching assistants, catering staff and lunchtime supervisors, should be prioritised for vaccination after the first four vulnerable groups.
4. A clear and comprehensive catch up programme must be drawn up, underpinning the longer term plan to reduce the disadvantage gap between poorer and more vulnerable children and their peers.
5. Schools must be supported to prioritise wellbeing and provide guidance and resources on how to manage mental health issues and the transition back to school, with more funding to increase access to specialist mental health services and an NHS funded counsellor in every school.
6. A plan must be set out for a review of the national curriculum and assessment regimes particularly in Key Stages 2 and 4 to support transition and progression to the next phase of education, training or employment.
Councillor Keith Orrell, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, commented:
“As we wait to hear the details of the proposed plans for children returning to classrooms, whatever the plan is, it must be clearly and transparently communicated. We need to see an end to information being briefed out to weekend newspapers. Schools and parents deserve to get absolute clarity on plans and support available.
“York's teachers continue to do a fantastic job, despite the continuous confusion in Government guidance and lack of support, which has been promised throughout the pandemic. Minsters must use every available lever to ensure that children’s transition back to the classroom is as safe and easy as possible.”