Get poorest children back to school for $370, charity urges

Cheryl Sanders
January 14, 2021

The increase in demand for places compared to the national lockdown last March is very concerning.

The Premier took the opportunity to express his honest gratitude to the officials at all levels, local authorities, parents, guardians, charitable people, school management, especially teachers who have overcome all obstacles to support and provide all forms of learning to students during the fight against COVID-19.

Four fifths of schools in England have between ten and 40 per cent of pupils taking up places, according to NAHT's poll of 4,964 heads.

The DfE has widened the categories of vulnerable children who can still go to school and added more critical workers whose children can also attend. The Department for Education (DfE) has said key worker parents should keep their children at home if they can, while telling schools they should not limit the number of their children or vulnerable pupils on site during lockdown.

It is also now compulsory for post-primary pupils who are still attending school to wear face coverings in classrooms and at drop off or pick up outside school unless they are exempt.

But it also says that parents and carers who are critical workers should keep their children at home if they can.

"Contradictory" government guidance is already pushing up school attendance levels and could undermine the lockdown, according to data released by head teachers' union NAHT.

He said that key workers need to have access to school places so they can go to work, but added that it is a "very hard balance to strike".

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has meanwhile confirmed that children who do not have access to technology are seen as vulnerable and can attend school in person during lockdown.

"In order to mitigate the impact of challenges thrown by the COVID-19 pandemic for out of school children, it was felt necessary for every state and UT to devise a proper strategy for preventing increased dropouts, lower enrolments, loss of learning and deterioration in the gains made in providing universal access, quality and equity in the recent years", a senior ministry official said.

But the majority (53%) of school leaders said they had no children attend for specifically for this reason.

As part of the new guidelines the government will be identifying the school-going underprivileged students whose studies were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and will be enrolling them for online classes or help them to take physical classes.

The Children's Task and Finish Group, which reports to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), published a report in December when schools were fully open to all pupils saying "accumulating evidence is consistent with increased transmission occurring amongst school children when schools are open, particularly in children of secondary school age". School meals services will be available as normal in special schools.

The findings showed that 1.24% of pupils and 1.29% of staff overall tested positive for current infection - similar to the 1.2% reported in the community. European Union transition workers have also been added to the list of parents who are eligible for school places.

A DfE spokesperson said: 'If critical workers can work from home and look after their children at the same time then they should do so.

"If you're a key worker and your partner doesn't work then you shouldn't be sending your children to school".

Other reports by iNewsToday