‘The right decision but it could have been made sooner’: Northants teacher’s union rep on national lockdown

Schools will now only be open to children of key workers and vulnerable children, until at least February half term

By Carly Odell
Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 11:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 11:50 am

A teacher’s union representative has welcomed the latest decision to only reopen schools to certain children, but believes it could have been made sooner.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced last night (January 4) that England is now in a third national lockdown.

After mounting pressure from teacher's unions about the safety of teachers and students in primary schools, as part of this lockdown, all schools will have to move to remote learning for all students except children of key workers and vulnerable children.

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Majority of students will now learn from home. (File picture).

The decision has been welcomed by a Northamptonshire teacher’s union representative, although there are still uncertainties, which the union wants the Government to address.

Elaine Coe, joint secretary for the Northamptonshire branch of the National Education Union, said: “They made the right decision, it’s just a shame it came so late in the day.

“Teachers and heads were planning for one set of circumstances only for those to be replaced with another.

“The decision could have been made before the holidays. Nothing has changed, it hasn’t gone from being safe to unsafe overnight.

“This time around they are insisting on online teaching for everyone, which teachers are happy to do and we’re used to it now.

“But it’s difficult for teachers to do that and help key worker children in school too. They can’t be in two places at once.

“The burden of that will fall with TA’s (teaching assistants) and classroom assistants, which isn’t sustainable.

“The list of vulnerable children and key working children also seems to be more extensive too.

“We’re obviously pleased that action has been taken as we don’t see what else they could have done, but we don’t see why it couldn’t have happened earlier.”

During his address to the nation, the Prime Minister confirmed his Government was in talks with the exam regulator, as it is not ‘possible or fair for exams to go ahead this summer, as normal’.

No further information about what will happen with, or instead of, exams has been released as yet, which is also causing some concern for teachers and GSCE and A-Level students, according to the union.

Elaine added: “It’s unlikely exams will go forward in the same way, but until we know what that is we can’t make any provisions.

“We can plan for them properly until we have a proper decision.

“GCSE and A-Level students are in a difficult situation. I’m about to teach my first GCSE class of the year and I know I will have some anxious students.”

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