Hackney’s leading councillors have pledged to support parents and carers in home-educating their children following the government’s announcement that schools, nurseries and colleges will close on Friday until further notice.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville and Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble issued joint statements shortly after the announcement was made, vowing to work with headteachers to disseminate much-needed information to pupils, parents and teachers in the borough left “worried and anxious” by the move.
The government has exempted the children of key workers and vulnerable children from the closures, with local campaigners for children with special educational needs and disabilities saying that parents with children with complex medical needs remained confused following the announcement.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, said: “This announcement will cause understandable worry and anxiety for pupils, parents and teachers in Hackney, and we will work with headteachers to ensure everyone is getting the information they need.
“We know that closing schools will have a huge effect on young people’s education and the ability of their parents – some performing vital frontline public service jobs – to complete their work.
“We also know others have been asking for such a decision for some time. The government and individual schools have, before now, had to balance these pressures. Today provides some clarity and the council – alongside individual schools, families and the community – will need to work together in response.”
The borough’s mayor went on to stress as “essential” the following of public health advice by the public to limit the virus’ spread and to protect lives, as the National Education Union welcomed the move, which also includes the cancellation of SATs, GCSEs, AS- and A-Levels.
Yes please. Parents confused especially those children with EHCPs who have complex medical needs. https://t.co/tohNunjkLg— Hackney Special Education Crisis (@SENDcrisisHack) March 18, 2020
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We welcome the government’s announcement that, for public health reasons, schools will now close. It is better for this to take place in an ordered way than the chaotic pattern of closures that was developing.
“This offers some degree of reassurance to teachers, their students and parents.
“Now, more than anything else the government needs to concentrate on ensuring that children in food poverty are fed properly – these children are not just those on free school meals.”
Deputy Mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, who leads on education in the borough, said that the Town Hall will now be closely scrutinising the detail of the announcement in order to understand its implications and to tailor guidance to a local level.
Cllr Bramble said: “Our focus will be on what this will mean for schools, other education settings, children, families and staff for next week, including liaising with unions.
“This will include ensuring vulnerable children and those who need, or will need, free school meals are supported by the government.
“We will do everything we can to support parents and carers to continue their child’s education at home, and we will issue further guidance through the Hackney Learning Trust and our schools when we have more information.”