Parents have been accused of pretending to be key workers to get their children a place in class.
Under the Government’s harsh new restrictions, only vulnerable pupils and children of key workers can still go to school during the third national lockdown, while other children must remain at home for online learning.
Our Lady’s Bishop Eton School in south Liverpool said they were swamped with requests for key worker spaces when the lockdown was announced.
But they began receiving a considerable number of complaints from other parents when an online lesson allowed them to see which children were attending class in person.
The school said they did ask parents for as much information as possible on the key worker application forms, and conferred with the local authority, and the school said that could do no more, particularly when parents making such allegations do not supply the school with the information necessary to investigate them further.
Boris Johnson warned schools may serve as vectors for transmission when he announced pupils in school and colleges would learn remotely until mid-February during the lockdown.
But despite the more stringent measures, primary schools in England are still seeing an increased demand for places, with one heads union reporting some have had 70 per cent of their families requesting on-site provision.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders union NAHT, said that they were increasingly concerned about the sheer demand for key worker and vulnerable pupil places.
He said that members are telling them that the demand for places is much more elevated than it was during the first lockdown last spring and that they’ve heard reports of some schools having 50-70 per cent in.
He continued that this could seriously undermine the impact of lockdown measures, and may even run the risk of growing school closures.
In the Commons, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed only one parent needs to be a critical worker to access a school place during the lockdown.
Gavin Williamson also confirmed that children who don’t have access to technology are seen as vulnerable and can attend school.
Government guidance says that vulnerable children may include students who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home, for example, due to a lack of devices or a quiet space to learn.
The problem is there’s a lot of non-essential employers still open, this then gives the employee no alternative if they have to go to work, and it’s not just NHS and care workers that are needed.
Supply chains need keeping open – distribution, manufacturing. Boilers still need fixing, cars still need repairs and there are a million and one non-essential roles that are essential – if your toilet packs up in the first week of lockdown you can’t wait 12 weeks for a plumber.
But there’s a simple solution to this, which would be to request proof of key worker, critical worker status and those children who need places for other reasons such as vulnerability, disability et cetera will already be known to the school and I can’t believe that this wasn’t done already.
Although I don’t understand why vulnerable children are in school and yet fit and healthy children are at home – why would you send your vulnerable child to school during this pandemic?
However, financial support has been truly bad for a huge number of the population and people need to support themselves and their families and have no option but to work, as well as getting their children looked after.