It’s time to get our kids back to school
BY CLARE GOLBY
In March we went into a temporary scholastic shutdown. I collected my children from school and, in conversation one of the other mums, she said she thought the children would be off until September. Oh no, surely that’s not going to happen. Recently, their school broke up for summer having had most of the kids never return. As it turned out that day in March was indeed my children’s, and many others, last day in school for this academic year.
Home schooling seems like such a lovely idea – it’s school but not as you know it. I’ll freely admit, home schooling would not be my first choice of educational pathway for my children, and hats off to those who do choose it, but I and many others had no choice. We had to try to home-school while also working full time, at home. Personally, this, combined with all my elected and political responsibilities during a pandemic – not to mention seeing the ‘Facebook mums’ proudly posting pictures of their offspring’s latest baking creation or junk modelling masterpiece – just created an environment of stress from morning until night.
I appreciate my children’s school has been very proactive sending homework and study timetables. I’m thankful they did as much as they could but as the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water. Some horses, mine included, certainly did not always want to drink.
I understand we are very fortunate. My children’s teachers have been great throughout this whole time. The youngest even got a socially distanced doorstep visit and a balloon when it was his birthday because his teacher didn’t want him to miss out. I also fully appreciate that other people have not been so lucky.
I recognise it’s not only parents who have been affected by the school closures. Teachers have too. Several teacher friends of mine have missed ‘their kids’ and been disgusted with the attitude displayed by unions trying to strong arm people into situations they didn’t necessarily agree with. They didn’t appreciate the National Education Union publicly discussing how to ‘threaten’ headmasters who tried to get their staff back to work, stating union opposition to the June 1st date for reopening some schools was a ‘negotiating position’. Why should these people be allowed to hold our children’s education hostage?
Some teachers are as equally frustrated with the attitude as I am, however they can’t take a public stance and speak out against the union line for fear of what might happen if they do. The oppression of free speech by unions is just another extension of the left’s strangle hold on our public services.
For some children, school is a lifeline. These unions have been playing benevolent dictator with our children’s education. Would they have done the same if this were a Labour Government? I doubt it.
It’s sad really. Mine and everyone else’s children have missed out on so much over the past months. I understand the reason why they were sent home then; I don’t agree with the reasons why they weren’t allowed back.
Robert Halfon, the chair of the Commons Education Select Committee and a Conservative MP, said ministers must help disadvantaged children to avoid an “epidemic of educational poverty”. I agree but I have also raised my own concerns at council working groups as I believe the issue is wider than this. I don’t believe it’s just the disadvantaged who are at risk. In fact, more disadvantaged kids have received help where others would not qualify. We have distributed laptops and internet connections to ensure those without equipment can access educational resources but I’m aware of families with 3 or more children trying to use 1 laptop and mobile phones to do the same thing. They don’t qualify for assistance because they aren’t considered disadvantaged. These are the squeezed middle and a significant number are also ones who lent us Conservatives their vote at the last general election.
So many people I speak to feel guilty because they feel in the last few months they have failed their kids. So many people would have sent their children back to school if they had been given the opportunity and I include myself in this. The opportunity has been denied and we will see the fallout from these decisions in the future. Instead of taking a blanket ‘no’ stance it would have been far better for Government and representatives of educational bodies to come to a workable arrangement. Even part time school would have been preferable to no school at all.
I like others know, in September there will be an uphill struggle in classrooms across the country to try and claw back these missed months. In my opinion, the sooner we get our children back to school the sooner we can try and fix the damage the last few months have no doubt done to our kids.
Clare Golby was the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Coventry North West in the 2019 General Election. Follow her on twitter: @MrsGolby