Cabinet Member for Education, Children & Families, Councillor Suzy Horton responds to the Government's announcements regarding reopening schools to more pupils and the work undertaken in schools across the city.
This time last week the government announced that there would be ‘re-opening’ of schools from the 1st June. Of course, schools have not been shut at all during the whole pandemic and teachers have been working hard to teach (in school) the children of key workers and vulnerable children, contact all other children, set up home learning support, organise and deliver free school meals and continue to respond to ever-changing government guidance.
In Portsmouth, I have been impressed, but not surprised, by the enormous hard work, innovation and commitment to work together by every school in the city. The teaching profession is one that is used to being adaptive, innovative, having to make swift decisions and take responsibility for safeguarding large numbers of people every day. Therefore it is no surprise that within days of the announcement that schools would ‘close’ on 20 March, they had set up a new way of working to best support their own communities in these unprecedented times.
Following the announcement last Sunday that schools would ‘reopen’, schools set to work planning for the readmittance of Nursery and Reception children as well as Years 1, Y6 and Y10. Obviously these plans take into account guidance on safety (social distancing, hand washing, deep cleaning) as well as the logistics of the school. This means that there is far more to do before any certainty about what ‘returning to school’ looks like and it will inevitably look different in different schools as they make sense of the government guidance and try and respect the national safety measures with the desire for the maximum number of children to be back in school.
Of course, the importance of being at school for learning, for friendships, for emotional support is still as crucial as ever but what is certain is that school for the immediate future will be different from ‘normal school’ and that the safety of children, teachers and their families must be paramount. Teachers will continue to support all their families in the best way that they can.
The coming weeks will see questions answered, problems solved and another way of working evolving. As the pandemic changes so will these ways of working. For this week, here is the joint statement from myself, and school representatives. I hope that in Portsmouth we can continue to work together to support our families with clarity and compassion during this challenging time.
As a local authority, we will continue to advocate for both our young people and our teachers, and we will challenge and question the government to ensure that we can act in the best interests of all residents.
- Councillor Suzy Horton
Cabinet Member for Education, Children & Families
For further local or national information about the Coronavirus pandemic please click the links below: