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THE government must embark on a national education recovery plan to ensure children do not become “casualties of Covid-19,” a teaching union demanded today.
The NEU has called on the government to work with teachers and unions on a 10-point plan to prevent disruption to children’s education during this time from having a lasting impact.
Most children have been out of school since lockdown measures were imposed in mid-March and will not return to classrooms until September.
Schools have adapted quickly to provide lessons online and teaching materials to parents, however social mobility groups have warned that closures could widen the attainment gap between poor and wealthy kids.
Research by the Sutton Trust in April found that teachers in the most deprived schools are more than twice as likely to say that work their students are sending in is of a much lower quality than normal.
The NEU stressed that disadvantaged children must be a “key priority” for the government on the country’s road to recovery after the pandemic.
Therefore the union is calling on the government to continue providing free school meals and offer funding to local authorities to plan clubs and activities during the summer holidays.
Children must also be given resources to learn at home, including access to books and technology, it added.
Currently 700,000 children live in homes without internet access, severely impeding their ability to learn during the lockdown.
The plan also proposes that GCSE and A-levels should be changed, removing syllabuses teachers did not have time to cover and ensuring that barriers faced by disadvantaged pupils are taken into account.
The union also wants to see a national wellbeing plan to support children who may have been traumatised by the impact of the pandemic.
NEU joint secretaries Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said that the government had left schools “to struggle on their own” through the crisis.
“This cannot happen again. We need a clear national plan,” they said.
“The government must demonstrate leadership and the capacity to work with local authorities and education unions so that plans are implemented in all the regions.
“The NEU’s 10-point plan addresses significant issues that have to be considered.”
The plan follows an announcement by PM Boris Johnson on Wednesday that students will return to schools in September, but planning for this will need “a big summer of catch-up.”
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