Monday marked the end of the Easter holiday period and the start of the summer term for schools. Schools remain closed until further notice for all but the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. And even during the Easter period most schools remained open for those children. It’s clear from my phone calls to a number of head teachers in the constituency that, while the challenges schools face are immense, teachers are going the extra mile to ensure their pupils remain engaged in their education.
I want to thank all those teachers and support staff who work in our schools in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, for their magnificent response to this crisis. Teachers providing work for their pupils and video lessons. Teachers are phoning families at home to see how their pupils are getting on. Staff continuing to look after children of critical workers and vulnerable children who are attending school.
I am pleased to see that nationally and locally many schools are using the free online resources recommended by the Department for Education, such as the Oak National Academy where there are 180 video lessons created by teachers for teachers. The Department for Education will provide laptops and tablets for disadvantaged teenagers without such equipment who are taking exams next year.
The rollout of the national voucher system will mean children eligible for free school meals will continue to receive the same support as they normally would have in school. And headteachers will be able to focus fully on supporting their staff because Ofsted will not be carrying out routine inspections of schools and colleges. Students studying for their GCSEs and A-levels will still gain the qualifications that they need in August.
The wellbeing of school staff, children and parents is the absolute priority, and schools will reopen at the right time when the scientific evidence says that it is safe to do so. I am committed to ensuring we minimise the impact of the pandemic on our young people’s education and their future prospects.
For further information about online learning resources, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education