As new research reveals the impact of lockdown on childrens’ education we’re calling on the Council to lay out its plans to support
vulnerable children and help schools reopen safely.
Research out last week suggests that as many as 20% of pupils are doing less than an hour of school work a day during lockdown, with some children doing none at all.
Here in Merton, Lib Dem councillors have discovered that in May the Council identified 666 children and young people as not having suitable computer equipment or internet access available to learn from home. On 22 June, 107 devices were distributed to children in year 10 but it is unclear when the rest of the needed equipment will arrive from the Government.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Hina Bokhari said:
“As a parent, school governor, and former teacher I am profoundly concerned by the deepening educational inequality that lockdown is causing.
“Local charities have been doing incredible work securing laptops and other equipment to allow children to access school work from home. And I know that schools and teachers are doing everything they can to support students.
“But the Government and local authorities need to sit down with teachers, and work out a strategy to enable children to catch up on the education they’ve missed. Otherwise we’re risking the educational development of a generation of children.
“As part of this we’re calling on Merton Council to consider using local public spaces to ease pressure on schools by allowing them to make more space for socially distanced learning.”
As the Government begins to ease the current lockdown, Liberal Democrat councillors have written to the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council to thank council staff for all their hard work during this difficult time.
The Open Letter published by the group also outlines their views on the borough’s vision and approach, as the Council begins to examine what recovery looks like.
Lib Dem lead councillor Anthony Fairclough said: "We wanted to highlight some of the key questions and challenges we think the Council should reflect on as we move into the 'new normal'. We hope to start a discussion of the borough’s future.
"Merton needs to be bold, imaginative and not afraid to occasionally fall short of its ambitions – because to do so means to learn and then improve. We need to show courage and energy, and be willing to do things differently. Our local communities need to be able to trust us to work out what needs to be done, but to be open about why things don’t work sometimes".
"More than ever, our area needs a fresh start. That's about engaging with residents; strengthening local decision-making; building resilience in our communities; rebuilding the local economy; and maximising safety in public spaces".
For the letter in full, please click here.