Classroom bubbles ‘will stay until autumn’: Boris Johnson urges parents and children to be patient as calls to end school restriction grows
- Government faces calls to end the bubble system making children miss school
- Revealed 375,000 children had been sent home because of positive Covid test
- Gavin Williamson suggested bubbles would end as classes return in September
- Boris Johnson urged parents and pupils to be patient so schools can prepare
Boris Johnson urged parents, pupils and Tory MPs yesterday to be patient over calls to end the bubble system that has been responsible for tens of thousands of children missing school.
The Prime Minister hinted that a ‘summer holiday firebreak’ would be needed to give schools time to prepare for a new set of arrangements.
A reminder of the damaging effect on education came as figures showed the average pupil lost at least a week’s worth of learning in autumn term last year, despite schools being open.
Boris Johnson urged parents, pupils and Tory MPs yesterday to be patient over calls to end the bubble system that has been responsible for tens of thousands of children missing school
Mr Johnson is under pressure after it was revealed that 375,000 children had been sent home because a member of their ‘bubble’ had tested positive for Covid.
They have to isolate for ten days if another pupil in their group gets the virus. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested that school bubbles will end when classes return after the summer holidays in September.
He has also indicated that the changes could happen when the next stage of easing restrictions takes place on July 19.
This is the date that many schools are due to break up for summer, making it a meaningless promise in practice.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister said he understands the frustration over whole bubbles being sent home but said a Public Health England review into favouring testing over isolation has not finished yet.
‘They haven’t concluded yet so what I want to do is just to be cautious as we go forward to that natural firebreak of the summer holidays when the risk in schools will greatly diminish and just ask people to be a little bit patient,’ he said during a visit to the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
Tory MPs are demanding the system is scrapped amid fears it would create a ‘ghost generation’.
Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is among 48 MPs to have signed a letter to the Prime Minister warning that the current policy is ‘disproportionate’ and ‘unsustainable’.
They said it was essential that schools ‘go back to normal’ when lockdown is lifted, even if it is ‘just for the last few days of term’.
‘This will send an important signal ahead of the autumn that the route to freedom is a “one-way road”,’ the letter said.
Mr Johnson is under pressure after it was revealed that 375,000 children had been sent home because a member of their ‘bubble’ had tested positive for Covid (stock photo)
It added that pupils have suffered ‘unnecessary and significant disruptions’ in order to keep the rest of the country safe.
‘They have lost physical fitness, suffered mental health damage, and experienced catastrophic learning loss,’ it said.
Other signatories include former cabinet minister Esther McVey and Commons education committee chairman Robert Halfon.
Molly Kingsley, of the UsforThem campaign, which organised the letter, said: ‘Children have been at the bottom of the heap in decision-making for the last 15 months.
‘They need to recover their health and wellbeing, education and their futures, and now we owe it to them to put their interests first.’
Yesterday Department for Education analysis of autumn term 2020 showed that the average pupil lost five days for Covid-related reasons, equating to a total of 33million days, despite school being open.
ASCL, the secondary heads’ union, wrote to the Prime Minister hitting back at claims schools were sending too many children home.
The letter said: ‘This feels like a cynical attempt to shift the blame for your Government’s failure to address the escalating educational disruption of recent weeks.’
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