Commenting on the report by EPI, Education policy responses across the UK to the pandemic: Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Unions, said:
'This report is a stark reminder to Governments that much more could have been done during lockdown for children and young people's education.
'It is unacceptable that the most disadvantaged children and young people were the hardest hit by the fallout of the lockdown. Especially as, after years of cuts to school funding and community services, the additional challenges they faced in accessing education and support were well known and should have been planned for.
'In England the procrastination, delays, and difficulties over whether those entitled to free school meals would receive them over the summer holidays and access to laptops and IT for home learning was scandalous. These were known and obvious problems. Not sorting out free school meals effectively and quickly caused a great deal of misery to nearly two million children, young people, and their families. Child poverty is not inevitable. Effective policy decisions can loosen its grip. We urge Government to learn from the costly mistakes, as well as the limited successes, of the last 7 months to ensure in the coming months no child is left behind
'The Westminster's Governments record on getting clear information out to schools has been abysmal. In a recent NEU survey 84% of members said they do not trust Boris Johnson’s Government to keep schools safe, to protect workers, to listen to the profession, to support vulnerable or disadvantaged children, or to ensure exams and assessment are fit for purpose. This must change. Government needs to listen to the profession and ensure we have effective protection and policies in place to keep our schools and colleges open safely for as long as possible and for as many children and young people as possible".
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