Commenting on the Prime Minister’s address, Assistant General Secretary (Voice Community) Deborah Lawson said:
“Given the current uncertainty about the safety of staff, children and their families, we believe that, regrettably, the decision to close all schools and colleges to most students, or not reopen them, is the correct one in the circumstances.
“Schools, colleges and nurseries are normally the best place for pupils to learn, and Voice Community members always prioritise education/childcare and their pupils. However, with the new strain of COVID-19 and the lack of scientific evidence about its transmission, it seems that this is a necessary measure, which we hope will be for as limited a period as possible to ensure the safety of all.
“We urge the Government to take this opportunity to put in place plans for testing of children and staff, both in early years settings, that remain open fully, and in schools, and urge them to prioritise the vaccination of staff in early years settings and education, so that further disruptions can be limited.
“We welcome the Government’s decision to work with stakeholders on alternative arrangements to examinations.
“With many members in the early years and childcare, we are greatly concerned by the damage the pandemic has done to this sector, and, without support from the Government, we fear this damage may be irreparable.
“As a union that represents members across all aspects of education, from early years to university, we will continue to work with the Government and employers to ensure that workplaces are safe for our members and those under their care and ensuring that these members, the heartbeat of the workplace and their community, continue to have a voice.”