LABOUR’S education chief has warned lockdown scars “still haunt” kids today and vowed schools would be the last to close in any future emergency.
Bridget Phillipson said classroom closures did “lasting damage to our children” and hit out at the “unforgivable” decision to reopen pubs first.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has said lockdown scars still haunt kids[/caption]
She promised: “I tell you today that if I am Secretary of State for Education, if and when such a national crisis comes again, schools should be last to close and first to open.”
She added: “Ministers failed our children in their hour of greatest need. And that failure haunts us today, and will go on haunting us tomorrow.”
But Ms Phillipson was accused of “hypocrisy” with the Tories accusing Labour of opposing their efforts to get schools back open.
In June 2020 Ms Phillipson said parents were not “persuaded” by ministers that it was safe to send their kids back to school.
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Conservative chairman Richard Holden said: “This is typical political opportunism and hypocrisy from Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party which fought tooth and nail to keep schools closed for longer during the pandemic.”
Yet Labour secured a boost as Boris Johnson’s former catchup tsar Kevan Collins backed the party’s plans to get kids back to school.
More than a fifth of pupils in England are deemed “persistently absent” – missing 10 per cent or more of lessons.
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Ms Phillipson said a Labour government would create a national register for home-schooled pupils to ensure kids are not falling through the cracks.
She also said parents must not be taking their kids out of class for non-essential reasons like holidays.
She told a Centre for Social Justice event: “Cheap holidays, birthday treats, not fancying it today. These are no excuses for missing school.”