It is time to extend free school meals to all primary age children

It is time to extend free school meals to all primary age children

Borough news, Parliamentary news
Oldham’s Liberal Democrat councillors have backed a campaign calling for free school meals to be extended to all primary school children. The National Education Union has said that child hunger is an ‘epidemic’ in schools and has published an open letter to the prime minister which says that currently millions of children miss out on a free school meal, with some as young as seven. Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Oldham councillor Howard Sykes MBE said, “Free school meal provision is one of the most effective policies when it comes to tackling child hunger and poverty as well as raising educational achievement. It’s about a fair start in life and peace of mind for struggling families who know their children will be able to focus in class after a…
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Schools White Paper: Half-baked proposals miss the mark

Schools White Paper: Half-baked proposals miss the mark

Parliamentary news
The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Schools White Paper as “half-baked” as it launches today, saying they have “no ambition or imagination”. The Party has moved to criticise the proposals after they focused on restructures and the National Tutoring Programme rather than diverting more funding towards catch-up for children who have been hit hard by lost learning during the pandemic or helping children to build their skills and experiences. Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP has said the proposals “completely miss the mark” and do not come close to righting the “wrongs” of the Department for Education over the course of the pandemic, such as botched school reopenings and a failure to get laptops to children who needed them. The Liberal Democrats are calling for an extra £10 billion to go…
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Schools facing “tidal wave” of around 100,000 teacher absences

Schools facing “tidal wave” of around 100,000 teacher absences

Parliamentary news
Responding to the news that over 300,000 children are off school alongside around 100,000 teachers and teaching assistants, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, Munira Wilson MP, said: "The Education Secretary is standing idly by as schools are facing a tidal wave of teacher absences. His failure to prepare has led to a slow-motion car crash as Covid mixes with the return to schools. "The Government's catch-up plans are a drop in the ocean, their ex-teacher recruitment campaign is nowhere to be seen, and it is unforgivable that ministers failed to equip classrooms with the air purifiers they need. "The Conservatives have failed to get a grip of Omicron in the education system and now we are seeing it wreak havoc."
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Guarantee Covid tests for teachers and pupils ahead of schools return, government urged

Guarantee Covid tests for teachers and pupils ahead of schools return, government urged

Parliamentary news
The Liberal Democrats have written to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi calling on him to provide a “cast-iron” guarantee that schools will be able to access Covid tests for teaching staff and pupils returning to the classroom next week. Without those tests available at the start of term, he risks breaking his promise to keep schools open. It comes amid warnings from headteachers that difficulties getting hold of lateral flow tests could lead to school closures or children returning to online learning. Last month, the Government said all secondary school students in England will be asked to take a Covid test on site following the Christmas break. Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said: “It would be unforgivable for ministers to do even more damage to our children’s futures and…
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Zahawi on Marr: Schools crisis slipping from his grasp

Zahawi on Marr: Schools crisis slipping from his grasp

Parliamentary news
Responding to the Education Secretary’s failure this morning to guarantee that schools will not close this winter - nor reopen in the new year - in the face of the Omicron variant, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said: “This failure to provide a cast-iron guarantee to parents, teachers and children on keeping our schools open just about says it all about this Government and their priorities. “Time and time again, our children have been badly let down by the Government’s inability to get on top of Covid. The Education Secretary promised to “get a grip” of this crisis, but all evidence suggests that it's slipping from his grasp as students miss out on millions of hours of lost learning every week. “Both pupil and teacher absences are through…
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Covid winter plan: PM must guarantee schools will stay open

Covid winter plan: PM must guarantee schools will stay open

Parliamentary news
The Liberal Democrats are calling on Boris Johnson to give a “cast-iron guarantee” to parents that schools will not be shut again as part of the Government’s Covid winter plan, after the chaos of the last year which saw pupils miss out on 33 million days of schooling. The Liberal Democrats are also calling for more funding to ensure schools can stay open safely as Covid cases rise, including to improve ventilation and install an air purifier in every classroom. The Government still refuses to fund these vital safety measures, and instead suggested children learn outside in the cold during the winter months. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “Our children have been failed by the Conservatives throughout this pandemic. Pupils have missed out on millions of days of vital…
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Give school leavers an optional extra year

Give school leavers an optional extra year

Parliamentary news
Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, has written to the Secretary of State for Education asking that he sets out proposals for a "Spring Forward" year of an optional fully-funded year of education for 17 to 18-year-olds who have missed out during the pandemic. "Unlike younger students, they do not have years ahead of them in school to gradually make up for the months of in-person teaching time they have lost during the last two academic years," the letter states. "So it is particularly urgent that you set out proposals to ensure they are not put at a disadvantage as they take their next steps in education, training or into the world of work. "As students return to school from 8 March, we are asking you to make…
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Budget betrays children, parents and teachers

Budget betrays children, parents and teachers

Parliamentary news
Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, reacted to the Budget: “It’s simply astonishing that the Budget has nothing to tackle child poverty, nothing for children or young people or their early years education or schools. “Tens of thousands of childcare providers are at risk of closure, whilst school finances are at breaking point. "The Chancellor's Statement needed to give children and young people the opportunities to regain the learning time they have lost over the last year. "He has failed to extend free school meals permanently to ensure no child living in poverty goes hungry, he’s failed to give nurseries and early years providers any certainty and he’s failed to deliver much-needed extra funding for schools to help meet the additional costs of being open safely during the…
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‘Could do better’, Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader’s verdict on so called full school opening plans

‘Could do better’, Oldham Liberal Democrat Leader’s verdict on so called full school opening plans

Borough news
With one week to go, Conservative Government plans to reopen schools fail to pass muster, says Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE. “Whilst we all want to see all our children back at their desks, a return to school must be safe for our children, our teachers and our other school staff,” said Councillor Sykes. “Parents will rightly want to have the assurance that the government is not simply rushing into things just to satisfy a deadline on the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ and that our children’s health will in no way be compromised by a March 8 return to the classroom.” The Oldham Liberal Democrats believe that the government has a whole series of questions to answer before it can pass the test: How can we be sure that…
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Summer catch-up schools: Government must do more for young people’s wellbeing

Summer catch-up schools: Government must do more for young people’s wellbeing

Parliamentary news
Responding to the announcement of the Government's plans for summer catch-up schools, Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education said: “The Liberal Democrats have been calling on the Government to set out ambitious plans to support young people with both educational and emotional recovery as schools reopen. "Without this we could see a lost generation, who will feel the impact of the disruption caused by the pandemic, for years to come. "Government must remember that it isn't just lessons young people have missed out on through school closures. They have missed time playing and socialising with their friends, spending months cut off from in-person contact with their peers. "There are widespread reports of the devastating impact this has had on young people's mental and emotional wellbeing. Parents will want…
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