As daily cases of the Delta variant of Covid escalate above 25,000, hospital admissions and deaths thankfully remain low. The disease no longer primarily affects the old and infirm but is now concentrated in the young and unvaccinated. No where is this more evident than in our schools.

In Gloucestershire over 8,000 pupils are currently at home isolating. Some schools closed entirely such as Chipping Campden Secondary and Shurdington Primary Schools. Most other schools have year groups or bubbles of students isolating at home.

However, most of those pupils have no symptoms and a negative test result. Parents are struggling to explain to their children why they must miss their Leaving Prom or Assembly, why they cannot go on the end of term trip or why they cannot take part in Sports Day, although they are perfectly healthy. Parents who struggled to support home learning during lock down, now must take time off work to look after their children while the government is assuring us that we are returning to normality.

Once again children are missing out on their education as well as hugely important end of term events. The impact is on learning but also on children’s mental health. Yet there is a solution. Schools that have piloted daily testing of pupils have kept most children in school. Many private schools have successfully implemented this scheme but funding from the government have not beenforthcoming for most children in state schools.

Equally disappointing is the failure to implement the catch-up programme devised by the government’s own “Catch-up Czar” to make up for this missed learning. Only 10% of his support programme for pupils in England will be funded by the Treasury this year. This follows the government’s failure to provide any of the promised “massive catch-up programme” last summer.

The elderly and the infirm may have been the early casualties of this terrible pandemic. However, it seems our children and their life chances will be the ones to bear the long-term consequences.

Malcolm Bride

photo of above article in the Echo
photo of above article in the Echo

Article from the Gloucestershire Echo, 8th July 2021

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