Wandsworth Council should think again about encouraging local schools to open

This week, as headteachers and parents across Wandsworth are taking the decision as to whether it is safe enough for pupils return to school, we’re asking that Wandsworth Council think again about encouraging its schools to open.

Wandsworth Labour has been listening to parents and to teachers. We support the return to school and nursery as soon as we are sure it is safe for staff and students, but only when the five conditions set out by the government’s chief scientific advisor have been met.

Given that several members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have expressed their worries about schools opening up too early and that the independent SAGE group modelling shows the risk halves if we wait until later in the month for the return to school, we remain unconvinced that this is the correct course of action.

Of particular concern is how educational settings can enforce and maintain the 2 metre distancing rule as well as concern for older and BAME staff members, who we know are more at risk. Some Headteachers have also shared with us they will not be able to enforce social distancing amongst Reception and Year 1 children and some don’t have classrooms big enough to fit 15 pupils two metres apart.

We know that a return to school would help those less advantaged and vulnerable children who are away from the caring eyes of professionals currently, but these children were always entitled to go to school during the lockdown period, but largely did not do so. Therefore, we remain unconvinced that the government’s current proposals solve that problem and ask the council to reconsider asking schools to return this week.

Since lockdown measures were implemented Wandsworth Labour councillors in Tooting, Battersea and Putney have been working hard to improve children’s lives by:

  • Highlighting to Wandsworth Council to the problems of children without laptops. So far we have collected and delivered around 100 ourselves
  • Working with local organisations to create Learn & Play kits for Battersea children in need
  • Urging Wandsworth Council to provide PPE in schools
  • Asking that Wandsworth Council and private schools open up green spaces to help aid social distancing
  • Proposing that free school meal vouchers be available in the holidays
  • Continuing with our 5-year campaign for school streets across the borough of Wandsworth.

We are delighted to see the Council taking our ideas on board and will continue to press for these and other improvements to be kept up.

We want to hear from local residents on what you feel is and isn’t working currently, and any concerns you may have as lockdown measures ease across Wandsworth. Please feel free to contact Wandsworth Labour’s Education and Children’s Services Lead, Judi Gasser at: cllr.j.gasser@wandsworth.gov.uk

Author: Wandsworth Labour

News and opinion from Wandworth Labour councillors

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