SCHOOL REOPENING SHOULD BE GIVEN PRIORITY
It is now looking less and less likely that school pupils are going to be able to return to their schools after the February half-term break. Of course, the children of key workers are able to attend school, but for the majority of pupils this means they will continue to work from their homes, as are many of their parents. It is far from being an ideal way of learning.
I believe school reopening should be given a priority as education is so important. We must consider the mental health of our children and the benefits of learning as part of a group. There are practical difficulties with remote learning and the dynamics of the learning experience are more complicated when a pupil can’t quickly ask the teacher to explain a particular point during the course of the lesson. I’m pressing government to reopen schools as soon as it is safe to do so and to vaccinate teachers and school staff.
The schools closed on 18 March 2020 and that will mark a year of disruption. With that grim anniversary approaching, we have got to be practical and give school pupils priority so that they can learn unhindered.
Students at universities and colleges face the same anniversary. Constituents who are students have contacted me about the payment of tuition fees and accommodation charges during the current lockdown. The Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, has made it clear that higher education providers must comply with registration conditions about quality and academic standards. This means that students are supported and receive good outcomes, with standards protected.
Additional support for students facing financial hardship may be available to them through existing funding from the student premium. On rent, Citizens Advice have a free information and support service with details on the website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/