Councillors demand more support for schools to make them safe

Josh Salisbury (12 November, 2020)

'We are extremely proud of the efforts to keep learning made by our children' states the letter

37126A temperature check being used in a SE16 school

Southwark’s education boss has called for urgent government support for schools to make them safe.

In a cross-party letter, the education leads of nineteen London councils have asked the government for more funding to “properly discharge our duties,” and protect “the health and safety of wider families and education staff.”

The letter, sent to education secretary Gavin Williamson, contains five demands, including further funding for additional cleaning materials and to cover staff who are isolating because of Covid.

“As you will be well aware Covid-19 and the measures taken to prevent its spread have had a devastating impact on the health, wellbeing and education of the children we support,” states the letter signed by Cllr Jasmine Ali, Southwark’s deputy leader.

“We are eager to work closely with national government to minimise future harm.”

Southwark Council deputy leader, Jasmine Ali

Among the key demands are laptops and wifi for deprived children to make sure they can learn remotely if they are forced to self-isolate, and the same access to testing for school staff as is available for NHS staff.

Cllr Ali has previously slammed the government for not providing enough testing capacity for schools, telling the News in September that desperate parents had been ringing her up to ask if the town hall had any spare tests.

The councillors also have demanded extra capacity to support CAMHS, mental health services for young people.

One of the calls for support, free school meals for those eligible over Christmas, has already materialised after a Government u-turn.

Making the announcement last weekend, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, said: “We want to make sure vulnerable people feel cared for throughout this difficult time and, above all, no one should go hungry or be unable to pay their bills this winter.”

The letter goes on to add: “We are extremely proud of the efforts to keep learning made by our children, their families and the education staff that support them.”

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