Victoria Derbyshire in fiery clash with Tory MP about school reopenings

‘Do something about it’: BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire in fiery clash with Tory MP over school reopenings

The presenter pressed Tom Hunt MP on why the government shelved its plan to get all primary school children back to class by summer

Matt Mathers@MattEm90
Wednesday 10 June 2020 21:00

Victoria Derbyshire was involved in a robust exchange with a Tory MP on Wednesday over the reopening of schools.

The BBC journalist asked education select committee member Tom Hunt whether he felt the government had done enough in getting primary school children back to class.

“Next week parents will be able to take their kids into McDonald’s restaurants,” said Ms Derbyshire. “Next month most parents won’t be able to take their children back to school in England. Does that make sense to you?”

Mr Hunt said that he has been disappointed by the lack of progress on resuming lessons for primary school children, but refused to criticise his boss in Downing Street, instead blaming unions for their lack of cooperation.

“Well I think that some of the largest teaching unions – such as the National Education Union – they haven’t been particularly productive and positive in the discussions,” said Hunt.

“I have to be honest with you, I think the vast majority of those involved in education are motivated by what is in the best interests of the children.

“But unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that there does seem to be many people, particularly those involved at senior levels in teaching unions, who seem to be more motivated by scoring political points than getting as many children as possible back to school.”

Asked what evidence he had to back up his claim, the MP accused the National Education Union of “actively discouraging” teachers from conducting online lessons.

Hunt was then asked by Derbyshire who exactly had made the comment, to which he replied: “I’ve got the quote...” but added that it was “not to hand”.

Mr Hunt said that it will be children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds that suffer the most as a result of the continued closure of schools and reiterated that his passion for education.

“Well do something about it then,” the presenter replied.

Earlier this week, the government abandoned its pledge to get all primary school children back to class before the summer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce on Wednesday that zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas in England can join non-essential shops in throwing open their doors as part of the relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown on 15 June.

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