There is worry and frustration this morning as parents across the country woke up to the news that their children would not be returning to school before September “at the earliest”, with many hoping that a phased return would be implemented before the summer. While some primary school children were permitted to return to the classroom from 1st June, the advice of Lancashire County Council to Headteachers is that children should not return. This is being reviewed on a weekly basis – the next review will be Monday 15th June, with Monday 22nd June being the earliest possible return should LCC at this juncture recommend re-opening.
Parents worry about their jobs
Private eye has spoken to a number of Lytham based parents, who chose to remain anonymous. Names have been changed for confidentiality.
Jane* lives in Lytham and is entitled to a keyworker school place, but told us “the children have to remain in cordoned off areas on their own like pig pens, they cannot mix with other children other than a sibling if they have one. They aren’t being taught anything, and I’m not comfortable with the setup so I have been struggling at home with a small child in the house while I work 9-5 every day. Like everyone I was pleased when the Government announced we would go back 1st June, and the school later announced a phased return from the 8th June – but then the council told them not to re-open. At this rate we will be allowed to go on holiday abroad or to the pub, before we will be able to send children to school!”
Kate* is a single mum with a local business, as a director she was not able to receive the grant for self-employed, and although she would be permitted to ‘furlough’ herself, this would mean ending contracts with all of her clients and having no business to come back to. As a result she is working full-time with a five year old and was relying on schools returning in June. She told us “for ten weeks now we have been stuck inside the house while I work and my child just plays or watches TV alone. It isn’t a healthy situation; he has only begun to see other children since last week when the rules permitted gatherings of six people, as the earlier rules to meet one other person excluded us as we classed as two people! I was hopeful that school would re-open at some point in June, but now it is looking like it will be September. I have an office and several staff, so I am going to be left with no choice but to take my child into the office within the next few weeks as family are still prohibited from having my child inside the house”
Although the furlough scheme has been extended to October, a number of parents feel that their job will be at risk if their employer asks them to return to work and they are unable to do so, because they have no childcare. One local told us, “Covid provides a legitimate cover for employers who want to discriminate”.
Concerns over health and well-being
Many parents expressed a greater level of concern towards their child’s health and well-being, than their education.
While parents accept that young children will ‘probably catch up’ in terms of maths and literacy, key skills such as sharing, taking turns and listening to others are going to be harder to manage after six months without opportunity to develop those skills.
In older teenage children, we are learning from parents that they are displaying signs of anxiety and depression with many not wanting to get out of bed or get dressed. Some children are deeply concerned that they will fail their GCSE’s, having taken such a long time out of school, and are worried for their future. One parent we spoke to, told us their child has developed severe eczema since lockdown, as a result of stress and worry.
No holiday care
Private Eye have made enquiries with a number of local summer holiday clubs, however at present none have confirmed that they will be running over the summer.
If you are a childcare provider running over the summer, or are aware of one that will be operational, please contact Lytham St Annes News