Open Letter to Gavin Williamson

The National Education Union Councillors Network is promoting an open letter from councillors to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP on the role of local councils in school education:

They are demanding:

  • Families eligible given FSM vouchers over summer
  • Work with us to protect vulnerable children
  • Schools reopen only when safe
  • Councils coordinate local schools

Here is the letter, if councillors wish to sign they can do so online here.

Dear Gavin Williamson MP, 

As local councillors, we are writing to raise concerns in relation to current school closures.

The first issue is our concern about the impact school closures are having on disadvantaged students and their families

Students eligible for free school meals (FSM) have had mixed experiences when applying for the Government’s voucher scheme, with some unable to access vouchers to which they are entitled. We would like your assurances that all families with children eligible for FSM will receive vouchers for the full period of school closure, including school holidays. This may need to be in retrospect for families who have not yet been able to access their vouchers.

We would ask that the Department for Education (DfE) continues to work with local authorities who are at the forefront of supporting families facing unprecedented food insecurity in the current climate. 

As you will know, holiday hunger is an issue for many families and we would like your assurances that families eligible for FSM will be given food vouchers to sustain them during the summer holidays. We believe that this should become a permanent fixture within our school system, so no child need go hungry during the school holidays again.

We also have concerns about support for vulnerable children and the increased calls to domestic violence helplines nationally. We would ask that the Government continue to work with local authorities and schools to ensure vulnerable children do not ‘slip through the net’ and the necessary financial support is available to councils to support families fleeing domestic violence.

Finally, we are concerned by the current speculation on the end to school closures. We find current speculation unhelpful but would like to support the calls from the teaching profession that schools only be reopened when it is safe to do so, for both teachers and students.

We also ask that local authorities be given a role in coordinating with schools, trade unions and the DfE on a safe end to school closures.

We hope that the Government will continue to collaborate closely with local councils to support families and schools as we weather the current crisis and its aftermath. This will require an end to austerity and a new, long-term, funding settlement for local authorities and schools, to ensure they are best equipped going forward.

Yours sincerely,

The Undersigned

Kathryn Thomas says

Putting in place measure to enable schools to reopen safely needs to be an urgent priority now, as many workers are being asked to return to work and if schools are not open, when this happens, this puts many parents in a difficult position.

Susan thorpe says

The open letter to Gavin Williamson needs to be sized down only concentrate on when schools are opening an the amount of children per class ,then the desk can be separated giving space to each child . This is something that needs to be organized now so parent that are going back to work have clear information and do not have to worry about there children Having smaller classes is a good idea and should continued After covid19 has passed .

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