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Head of Ofsted says we ‘cannot furlough children’s futures’ with school closures

Comments come as legal action is launched against the government

Bethany Dawson
Sunday 03 January 2021 15:11 GMT
Amanda Spielman  said children’s time out of the classroom should be kept to the ‘absolute minimum’
Amanda Spielman  said children’s time out of the classroom should be kept to the ‘absolute minimum’ (PA)

As the majority of teachers unions call for schools to remain closed as Covid cases spike to unprecedented levels, Amanda Spielman – chief inspector of Ofsted – has said that children’s education cannot be furloughed, and that time out of the classroom should be kept to the “absolute minimum”. 

Ms Spielman describes the decisions around schools to be “agonising choices”. Writing in The Telegraph, she states: “It is increasingly clear that children’s lives can’t just be put on hold while we wait for vaccination programmes to take effect, and for waves of infection to subside. We cannot furlough young people’s learning or their wider development.”

Ms Spielman’s comments have been supported by the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, who said: “I hope the government will follow my advice that these schools should be the last to close and first to open, when it’s thought safe to do so.”

These comments, however, have received little support from teachers unions, with The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) launching legal against the government to reveal the scientific advice behind their decision to allow most schools across the country to open.

The government have called for a delay in the opening of primary schools in London – where the worst rates of the virus are – while all other schools remain to open on schedule. 

Significant concern for the safety of school children, teachers, and their families come as the new variant of Covid-19, originating from the southeast and east of England, proves to be more transmissible and to affect children more so than the initial strain, which took over the world early last year. 

One college student spoke to The Independent, and has said they do not feel “confident or safe” regarding returning to school in amongst the spiking Covid cases. 

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