“It is clear that demand for places is significantly higher during this national lockdown, meaning schools have been placed in the invidious position of balancing safe pupil numbers in school with the higher expectations of the delivery of up to five hours a day of lessons online.”
Responding to concerns that some schools are struggling to cope with demand for places for vulnerable children or those of critical workers while also offering remote learning, Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“School leaders and staff, supported by their local councils, have worked incredibly hard to meet revised guidance to keep schools open for the children of key workers and those who are vulnerable while at the same time providing online learning to the rest.
“However, it is clear that demand for places is significantly higher during this national lockdown, meaning schools have been placed in the invidious position of balancing safe pupil numbers in school with the higher expectations of the delivery of up to five hours a day of lessons online.
“These challenges are exacerbated by reduced on-site staffing levels in some schools, including clinically extremely vulnerable staff and those self-isolating due to close contact or positive test outcomes.
“With the new guidance putting no restrictions on the maximum number of eligible children to be in school, and considering the risk of transmitting coronavirus in light of the new variant, it is vital that the Government and parents recognise that schools will have to make tough decisions about balancing a safe number of children who could be taught at school while providing high quality online learning.
“Schools and councils need to focus on providing education during the pandemic, without any unnecessary distractions. This is why we are also urging Ofsted to postpone the resumption of monitoring inspections for schools, either in-person or virtual, until after February half-term at the earliest.
“Further clarity is needed to help schools make safer and fairer decisions for their pupils, staff and families.”