Parents need to know there's a plan to reopen schools says Labour

Parents need to know the Scottish Government has a plan for the re-opening of schools and a strategy for dealing with the widening pupil attainment gap under coronavirus lockdown, it has been claimed.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, said “confusion” among Scottish ministers about when schools will reopen was adding to the stress experienced by parents, teachers and children.

And he said reassurance was needed about how “lost educational ground” will be recovered when pupils can return to the classroom.

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Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA WireEducation Secretary John Swinney. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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Mr Gray said that the First Minister, Education Secretary and the Children and Young People’s minister had all given different responses when asked when schools might reopen, leading to confusion for parents, pupils and teachers.

Nicola Sturgeon has said it was not possible to say when schools would reopen while Mr Swinney said they would be closed until late August. Maree Todd, the Minister for Children and Young People said schools would remain closed “until further notice” though it was under “constant review”.

Yesterday in Holyrood Mr Gray said more “clarity” was needed as well as a plan for phased reopening and how safety of teachers, support staff and pupils could be protected.

Ms Todd said: “The decision to close schools was based on scientific advice to slow the spread of coronavirus and the decision to reopen them will be based on that advice.”

Mr Gray said: “Children and parents have returned to their new home-schooling routines this week without the reassurance that plans are being laid out to support them when they return to classrooms. Instead there’s confusion.

“We cannot be as unprepared to re-open schools as we were for their closure – everyone knows we cannot be sure when they will reopen but we need to see and hear evidence that the planning for how they reopen is happening now.

“There are serious questions to be answered about how a reopening is phased, how safety for pupils and staff can be assured, and how lost time might be made up.

”In particular we need to know what new measures Ministers will put in place on reopening to recover the widening of the attainment gap, which worsens every day of school lockdown.”

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Ms Todd said closing the attainment gap was the “defining mission” of the government, and “our commitment to that remains during this challenging period”. She added: “We are currently working very hard on the issue, now more than ever there’s a strong focus on equity and excellence. We are providing as much support as we possibly can to parents, children and teachers.”

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