Wirral MP and Councillor join forces to call out government over failure to help schools with extra coronavirus costs from September
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28 Jul 2020
Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, and Cllr Tom Usher, Wirral Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, have hit out at the government after it emerged there are no plans for schools to be reimbursed for additional costs incurred as part of the process of making sure all children can return to school.
The government has instead stated that schools should use their existing resources to make arrangements to welcome all children back in September.
Margaret Greenwood, who is also shadow schools minister, tabled a written parliamentary question asking the Secretary of State for Education to provide details of discussions he has had with school leaders on providing them with financial support for costs that they expect to incur from September 2020 on things like the need for additional cleaning and extra signage.
These issues were among those raised by Wirral head teachers in a recent meeting with Margaret Greenwood and Cllr. Tom Usher.
However, in response to Margaret Greenwood’s question, the government’s schools minister, Nick Gibb, said that: “We do not consider it necessary for schools to make significant adaptations to their site to enable them to welcome all children back to school in the autumn. Following a risk assessment, some schools may determine that small adaptations to their site are required. This will be at the discretion of individual schools, based on their particular circumstances. As such, schools should use their existing resources when making arrangements to welcome all children back."
Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“We all want to see children going back to school safely.
“It’s very disappointing that the government isn’t listening to head teachers. They are doing an enormously important job and it’s vital that they have the support and resources that they need.
“Wirral head teachers that I have spoken to have told me of the additional costs that schools are facing in order to prepare for full reopening in September. Paying for extra school cleaning, sanitiser stations and signage all costs money.
“It is unreasonable of the government to ask schools to cover the costs from their general budgets. Schools have been underfunded for years as a result of the Conservatives' austerity programme.
“The government needs to look at this again as a matter of urgency and I will be writing to the minister to raise this with him again.”
Cllr Tom Usher, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education on Wirral said:
“The government has given local school leaders sole responsibility in the task of making schools safe for our kids. These head teachers are doing an excellent job and doing what they need to, regardless of the cost. Now they are being made to pay for their diligence. The government needs to make sure that schools receive the funding they need so that teachers can get on with settling children back into school-based learning.”