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Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats

Lib Dems welcome City Councils U-turn on schools and announce 5-point plan for reopening

June 15, 2020 7:30 AM

Brighton and Hove Lib Dems welcome the announcement that the council has now amended its advice to schools to enable them to gradually open to students once again from today. In conjunction with the Lib Dems 5-point plan to reopen schools safely and fairly, Ben Thomas, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson for Brighton Kemptown, encouraged the council to work constructively and collaboratively with the government and other parties to support schools in this endeavour.

Mr. Thomas said "Schools across the city have done brilliant work throughout this crisis, remaining open for vulnerable children and children of key workers, whilst working hard to provide resources for home learning for the majority of children. They have put themselves on the frontline and our many thanks go out to them for doing so.

"As we move to a phased reopening of schools, we encourage the council to support headteachers and governors. Many primary schools did significant amounts of work in preparation to begin to open last week, on Monday 8th June, only to have that undermined on Thursday 4th June by Councillor Allcock's political grandstanding. Given the lack of evidence provided to support this decision, was this simply an exercise in political point-scoring seeking to embarrass the government?

"It shouldn't have taken a week of pressure from parents, Headteachers and Governors for the council to reverse its decision. Those responsible for the schools are best placed to know how and when to reopen safely - the council must trust in them and work alongside them in support.

"Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are the most likely to suffer from the lack of time in school, risking widening the attainment gap further. Failures to properly supply meal vouchers and provide laptops to those without technology at home are examples where the needs of poorer families haven't been taken seriously by the Government and this must be urgently addressed.

"Both the Conservative Government and the local council need to come together, commit resources and develop a concrete plan that places the interests of schoolchildren first.

The Liberal Democrats have put forward such a plan because our children and young people deserve better."

Liberal Democrats' 5-Point Plan

The Liberal Democrats have put forward a plan to "work in unity" at a local and national level to consider ways to safely open schools more widely in England and support disadvantaged pupils in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Presenting the Party's Five Point Plan in a letter to the PM and Education Secretary, Layla Moran urged the Government to bring together council leaders, teachers, unions, experts and opposition politicians to agree a national plan for the safe, phased opening of schools more widely in England.

The plans put forward by the Liberal Democrats offer possible ways to get more pupils back in classrooms safely including:

Layla Moran

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, said:

"We all want schools to open more widely. Every day pupils can't be in school is a day lost, but safety must come first. We need to work together to get this right. That's why I want to see the Government working politicians across the political spectrum, plus unions, teachers and local governments, to consider practical and flexible solutions for the safe, phased reopening of more schools in the future.

"My Five Point Plan outlines options that could help to facilitate the phased safe opening of our schools more widely, as well as measures to address the widening disadvantage gap, such as engaging with the private sector to make sure every child can access online learning, or a commitment to a Summer Learning Fund to support those most at risk of falling behind.

"We need to learn from successes elsewhere in order to ensure we get this right. Parents, Teachers and pupils all need to be confident that children can go back to the classroom without putting their health at risk. That is what these plans are all about."

ENDS.

Notes to editors:

Please see the text of the letter below.

Dear Prime Minister and Secretary of State,

I hope you are both well and able to stay safe at this time.

As you are both no doubt aware, plans for the phased reopening of schools to more pupils in England have experienced setbacks, and have been characterised by divisive debate and tribal politics. I believe that we need to show collective leadership, and recognise that our children's futures must come before party politics.

We need to work in unity, and agree a national plan for our schools in England before the disadvantage gap becomes a gulf. We all want schools to reopen to more pupils when it is safe for them to do so, and I know you will join me in thanking our school leaders, teachers, school staff and governors for the incredible hard work they have put in to already make this happen for some children.

I am writing to urge you, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, to bring together council leaders, teachers, unions, experts and opposition politicians to agree a national plan. In advance of this, I would like to share with you our suggested five-point plan. I hope you will take it on board and work with us to deliver the outcome we all want to see.

The Liberal Democrats' five-point plan for reopening schools to more pupils in England:

The safety of teachers, staff, pupils and their families has to be paramount, and we must always follow the science. The only thing worse than keeping our children from learning would be a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We need to learn from the mistakes of how this issue has been handled before it's too late. We need to move forward together for the sake of those children whose future is already on the line.

Thank you for taking the time to read my proposals, and I look forward to hearing from you both.

Yours sincerely,

Layla Moran MP

Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon