Following on from Boris Johnson’s announcement of a further national lockdown due to rising coronavirus cases, students, parents and teachers are facing more uncertainty. Just as millions of children were set to return to the classroom after the Christmas break, local authorities across the country are forced to delay schools reopening for the foreseeable future.
Whilst everyone realises the situation changes very quickly and the government must act accordingly, there are fears that we will have a repeat of the exams fiasco of last summer which caused immense anguish and upset for thousands of students. Boris Johnson tried to provide some reassurance. He stated that while it is not possible or fair for all exams to take place this summer, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, will work with Ofqual to make alternative arrangements. He also added that, whilst schools are closed, free school meals will still be available for those who are entitled to them.
As well as exam worries, there have also been concerns raised over the quality of remote education, which is exacerbated by the digital divide (highlighted in our blog last year). Mr Johnson has stated that more devices will be distributed to families to support eLearning. However, there will need to be a significant investment in this area if we are to ensure the necessary technology is made available to the one million children, young people and families across the UK without adequate access to this vital resource.
Mr Johnson provided some further reassurance by adding: “If deaths fall after the new vaccine rollout and people stick to lockdown rules, we hope to steadily move out of lockdown and reopen schools after the February half term.” We certainly hope this is true and things start to improve so that young people can finally receive the education they deserve.