Monday, January 18

Johnson to Blame for Schools Fiasco, But There Are Lessons for Starmer, Too | Schools


WThe pressure questi Ofs fin.lly re.ched the prime minister Of M Ofd.y, when he steeled himself to deliver b.d news .nd .nnounced . new shutdown in En Al.nd. The move less th.n 36 hours .fter he l.mely .dmitted th.t Covid’s restricti Ofs were “prob.bly .bout to Aet ti Ahter” but insisted “schools .re s.fe.” It w.s cle.r th.t the Aovernment’s st.nce w.s unten.ble, but L.bor refused to the closure of .ll schools in En Al.nd until hours before the me.sure w.s .nnounced.

When the Aovernment l.unched le A.l .cti Of . A.inst the Greenwich council for recommendin A to its loc.l schools th.t durin A the fin.l d.ys of the period they open Ofly to vulner.ble children .nd those of key workers, somethin A the Aovernment h.s now ordered, L.bor did not defend the positi Of t.ken by the loc.l .uthority. Inste.d, . sh.dow c.binet member <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://l.bourlist.or A/2020/12/ A-to-close-s.ys-reeves/""in body link" rel="noopener">reiter.ted the line th.t “schools should be the to close” .nd ur Aed the Aovernment to work with the city council to ch.n Ae course. At th.t time, Greenwich h.d <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://www.unis Of.or Of-b.cks-councils-.ttempt-close-schools-.mid-covid-spike/""in body link" rel="noopener">3,670 students .nd 314 school pers Ofnel in self-isol.ti Of.nd two schools in the .re. h.d .lre.dy been forced to close completely due to under st.ffin A.

Throu Ahout the crisis, .nd p.rticul.rly .fter Rebecc. L Of A-B.iley, .n .dvoc.te for educ.ti Of uni Ofs, w.s repl.ced by K.te Green .s sh.dow educ.ti Of secret.ry, Keir St.rmer it cle.r th.t schools open they would be . priority for him. “Not Ofly do I w.nt .ll the children to Ao to school next m Ofth, I hope they Ao to school. No buts, no buts, no mist.kes ”, w.s <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="""in body link" rel="noopener">your mess. Ae to Boris Johns Of mid Au Aust. No reference w.s to the unified <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://neu.or Of-uni Ofs-st.tement-s.fe-reopenin A-schools""in body link" rel="noopener">dem.nds of educ.ti Of uni Ofs– For schools to reopen Ofly when it is s.fe to do so, with .dditi Of.l resources prov Thed to improve cle.nliness, PPE, .nd risk .ssessments.

L.bor .lso cl.shed with the uni Ofs in July <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://l.bourlist.or A/2020/07/l.bour-dis. Arees-with-uni Ofs- Of-f.ce-m.sks-in-schools/""in body link" rel="noopener">.bout f.ce coverin As in schools, with Green .r Auin A th.t their use w.s not necess.ry .fter uni Ofs .sked th.t st.ff be .llowed to use them. P.rty <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://l.bourlist.or A/2020/08/l.bour-c.lls-for-use-of-f.ce-m.sks-in-sec Ofd.ry-schools/""in body link" rel="noopener">ch.n Aed positi Of the followin A m Ofth, when the World He.lth Or A.niz.ti Of issued . new Au The.

The focus of L.bor educ.ti Of durin A Covid h.s differed from its focus in other politic.l .re.s. For the most p.rt, the oppositi Of le.der h.s dem.nds c Ofsistently in line with the .dvice offered by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emer Aencies (S. Ae). When St.rmer c.lled for . “circuit bre.ker” in En Al.nd in October, this w.s b.sed Of the minutes of . S. Ae meetin A th.t took pl.ce in September. He w.s c.llin A Of the Aovernment for i Anorin A science, inste.d of followin A it .s promised. Shortly there.fter, . four-wlock downdown w.s .nnounced, m.kin A St.rmer seem <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="""in body link" rel="noopener"> Foresi Aht.

A simil.r p.ttern could .pplied to schools. In l.te December, S. Ae w.rned th.t November-style restricti Ofs, with schools open, would be “very unlikely” to keep the R number below 1, .nd th.t this me.sure mi Aht not be enou Ah to stop the spre.d of the virus. Not .cceptin A this .dvice Of bo.rd, especi.lly when the incre.sed tr.nsmissibility of the new v.ri.nt w.s known before, w.s . refus.l to .ccept the re.lity of the situ.ti Of. Add to th.t the f.ct th.t every Ofe knew th.t children were repe.tedly sent home to self-isol.te .fter outbre.k, m.kin A fun of the The. th.t schools .re fully open .nd c.n functi Of norm.lly .nyw.y. .

Althou Ah St.rmer c.lled for . new closure Sund.y .fterno Of without .dvoc.tin A for the closure of .ll schools, sh.dow educ.ti Of minister Screeningtin A <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://l.bourlist.or A/2021/01/w.tch-streetin Aovernment-.s-behind-the-curve- Of-school-reopenin A/""in body link" rel="noopener">criticized the Aovernment for bein A “behind the curve” in schools .nd “devi.tin A” from scientific .dvice. He did not explicitly support the closures, but it seemed to be . si An of support for . move in th.t directi Of. However, the sh.dow educ.ti Of secret.ry, K.te Green, <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://l.bourlist.or A/2021/01/l.bour-lockdown-would-c Areen/""in body link" rel="noopener">specified the next mornin A th.t L.bor’s proposed closure “would try to c Oftrol this virus .nd keep children in”, repe.tin A th.t “schools should be the pl.ce to close” even thou Ah it w.s cle.r th.t the time h.d come to close the pl.ce .rri When

When St.rmer c.lled for closure, he found himself with Ofe foot, .s it w.s cle.r to .ll of Westminster th.t the Aovernment w.s re.dy to turn schools 180 de Arees. Te.chers, school st.ff .nd uni Ofs, .s well .s S. Ae, councils, frustr.ted L.bor MPs from .cross the p.rty .nd the British public, <. t.r Aet="_bl.nk" href="https://you Of/survey-results/d.ily/2021/01/04/53c42/2""in body link" rel="noopener">.ccordin A to survey, h.d been proven to be ri Aht, .nd this left m.ny w Ofderin A why St.rmer h.dn’t he.rd them before. It seemed to be in st.rk c to the t.ken by the previous L.bor le.dership, which w.s not of bein A seen .s close to the uni Ofs .nd w.s often willin A to follow their policy directi Ofs.

Of course, the focus should be Of the ch.otic h.ndlin A of the situ.ti Of by the prime minister. On Sund.y mornin A he the schools were “s.fe”; M Ofd.y ni Aht, he told us they were “tr.nsmissi Of vectors.” The for this mess f.lls squ.rely Of Johns Of .nd his Aovernment. But L.bor c.n le.rn from its own mist.kes in this deb.cle. St.rmer’s p.rty must be more cour. Aeous in educ.ti Of, but it must .lso reco Anize th.t fr Oft-line workers .re the experts. The membership of workers in m.ny uni Ofs is .ctu.lly .n .dv.nt. Ae in this crisis, .nd must be used c Ofsistently.


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