England’s schools are a thoroughly modern mess

Yes, these are exceptional times, but should schools have been so far down the pecking order for central attention compared with ‘non-essential’ shops, asks Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 18 June 2020 20:45
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The issue of reviving education has been a thorny one for the government
The issue of reviving education has been a thorny one for the government
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few weeks ago, I singled out some areas where it seemed that, amid all the inadequacies exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the government had got things right. One was the efficiency with which the benefits and subsidy schemes had worked. Another was the decision to keep schools open for children of key workers and others in need. It was hardly the government’s fault that so relatively few had taken up the offer.

Nor is it fair to argue, as some have, that the government should have kept all schools open. Many parents were already keeping their children at home well before the official closure and, so long as the daily infection and death tolls mounted, they were not going to send them back. There was considerably more doubt then than there is now about the risk of the virus to children.

Twelve weeks on, however, unlocking is proving a lot harder than locking, in education as elsewhere – even though children are now judged more at risk from a lightning strike than from Covid-19. What is more, the pandemic has started to shine as pitiless a light on our education system as it has done on the inadequacies of health and social care.

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