TO your MP
Subject line: Cross Party: Urge the government to back Schools and Educational Settings Bill
I am a member of UsforThem, a non-political campaign group advocating for children to be prioritised during the pandemic response.
School closures and ongoing education disruption over the last 21 months have been a catastrophe for our children.
Report after report tells us of the devastating impact. I highlight just a few of the consequences that we already know of. I also link to a more comprehensive summary of the harms. (https://usforthem.co.uk/resources/the-evidenced-harm-of-lockdown-and-school-closures-on-children/)
• Attainment gap According to the Education Policy Institute, the pandemic has severely widened the 18-month attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children.
• Mental health tsunami with 1 in 6 children are now suffering a probable mental health disorder.
• Safeguarding Troubling figures from the Centre for Social Justice showed that nearly 100,000 children failed to return to school full-time since they reopened. Recent tragic cases show the consequences of allowing children to slip out of sight.
With this tragic evidence in hand, a responsible government would surely be making it plain that schools will not close again, and they will do everything in their power to safeguard this infrastructure.
Yet, in December, we have heard both the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Health refuse to rule out further school closures, plunging our young people into uncertainty once more. The contrast between the national effort to roll out the booster programme versus the ongoing cavalier attitude to our children is stark. Our leaders are repeatedly telling our youngsters that they do not matter.
This is a cross-party, apolitical issue. As a country, we MUST commit to our children and assure them that their education will not be destroyed again at the stroke of a Minister’s pen.
There is one important step we could take right now to reassure our young people:
Please urge the Secretary of State for Education to adopt Robert Halfon’s Schools and Educational Settings (Essential Infrastructure and Opening during Emergencies) Bill. (https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3063)
The Bill is backed by the Children’s Commissioner and seeks to recognise educational settings as essential infrastructure in practice by enshrining in a statute that we must never close schools again- save for the most exceptional circumstances. If Nadhim Zahawi adopts this Bill, he will provide greater certainty to our children for the coming academic year allowing them to recommit to their educations. Importantly, it will also show much needed leadership.
As a parent, I will be unable to vote for any politician who does not strongly advocate for children’s wellbeing and education- especially after almost 2 years of sacrifice.
My children and I look forward to hearing of your support.
NAME and ADDRESS