Our children have experienced almost three years of unprecedented disruption, with two sets of school closures, social distancing and masks in class amongst the many pandemic regulations which impacted their lives more than those of the majority of adults. The harms of these restrictions are showing themselves clearly within our young people’s mental and physical health and educational attainment.
As our children approach a level of normality, as a society we should be prioritising their welfare and ensuring that children are in school. Please write to the government to insist that they ensure no child is forced to miss school due to industrial action.
Secretary of State for Education: Rt Hon Gillian Keegan firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Schools: Rt Hon Nick Gibb email@example.com
Minister for Higher Education: Rt Hon Robert Halfon firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: Your MP
Minister for Education and Welsh Language: Jeremy Miles Correspondence.Jeremy.Miles@gov.wales
First Minister of Wales: Mark Drakeford Correspondence.Mark.Drakeford@gov.wales
Children, Young People and Education Committee SeneddChildren@senedd.wales
CC: Your AS
The Prime Minister: Rt Hon Rishi Sunak email@example.com
Dear Education Secretary,
I am writing to express my concern about the prospect of industrial action in our schools, continuing action in universities, and the effect this will have on our children and young people.
The last three years have had an awful impact on our children. Report after report tells us of the damage that not being at school has had on children and young people. Their mental and physical health have suffered, and their educational attainment has been significantly affected. Our higher education students have already suffered disruption due to strikes, and many children have been impacted by the ongoing disruption on the railways, making it difficult for them to get to school.
School attendance is a major problem, with a marked increase in persistent absenteeism since lockdowns. As Ofsted chief Amanda Speilman has said, the lack of in-school education during the pandemic has broken the social contract of parents ensuring that their children get to school, and schools in return giving their children a good education. Further school closure or educational disruption will fracture this contract even more. How can we tell our children that education is important when they are consistently unable to access it?
It is unacceptable for this government to allow children to have any more enforced absences from school. I call on you to either reach a compromise with the unions to ensure schools are kept running, or to ensure that there are robust contingency plans in place so that no child suffers from reduced access to school due to industrial action. The evidence has shown that remote education is not equivalent to in-school learning and should not be considered a suitable replacement. It is an unacceptable substitute, and along with most parents, we will consider schools as closed and education not available if remote learning is implemented.
You, as our government, are responsible for our children’s education and I hold you responsible for ensuring that children do not suffer any more disruption to their education. I urge you to do everything in your power to deliver this.
Rishi Sunak has described improving educational standards as the “single most important reason” that he entered politics and the “closest thing to a silver bullet there is” to improve people’s lives. If Sunak truly believes this, then his government’s actions must follow his words.