Below is the text of the comments made by Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, on 12 June 2020.
We all want schools to reopen to more pupils when it is safe for them to do so. Our school leaders, teachers, school staff and governors have been working incredibly hard to already make this happen for some children.
Our children’s futures must come before party politics
The safety of teachers, staff, pupils and their families has to be paramount, and we must always follow the science. The only thing worse than keeping our children from learning would be a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plans for the phased reopening of schools to more pupils in England have experienced setbacks, and have been characterised by divisive debate and tribal politics.
I believe that we need to show collective leadership, and recognise that our children’s futures must come before party politics.
That’s why I’ve written a letter to the Prime Minister and Education Secretary, presenting the Liberal Democrat five-point plan for the phased opening of schools more widely in England.
Our plan includes:
Safe space registers enabling schools to use local buildings for social distancing.
Recruiting additional staff through a Teach for Britain campaign.
An end to the learning void by working with the private sector to ensure no child is unable to access their online learning environment.
Developing a plan for flexible, phased reopening staggering key year groups. The plan should follow the science and have the trust of parents and the profession by being developed with them, following the lead of Kirsty Williams in Wales.
Stopping the disadvantage gap from widening further by committing to free schools meals through the summer and a new Summer Learning Fund so disadvantaged pupils can access education through the summer holiday.
We need to move forward together for the sake of those children whose future is already on the line.
Having these plans in place will give parents, teachers and pupils the confidence that children can go back to the classroom without putting their health at risk.
The Government must act now. We need to move forward together for the sake of those children whose future is already on the line.