Teachers criticise 'hollow praise’ of Williamson letter

Teachers react angrily to Gavin Williamson letter on vulnerable children and call on him to sort free school meals farce and laptop scheme instead

teachers need support

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has sent an open letter to teachers reiterating his gratitude for their efforts in “supporting the country during this difficult time”, and their efforts to help vulnerable children during the outbreak.

Mr Williamson posted the letter on Twitter last night in which he stated: “You are making an immeasurable difference to those that need it most.”

He said: "I, like you, am concerned about those children and young people who may be at risk of harm without the continuity and structure that continued attendance brings."

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However some teachers reacted with anger on social media, including Paul Cooper, who said: “We are spending hours trying to unlock the mess that is your FSM [free school meals] voucher scheme and trying to work out how your laptop scheme will work. Spend your time sorting this mess rather than writing meaningless letters.”

School business manager @sbmwcp wrote: “What would be really helpful is if you resolved the farce that is the @Edenred management of the FSM vouchers. Business managers have spent weeks trying to sort for struggling families. Just not acceptable."

In the letter, Mr Williamson urged teachers to read the DfE’s refreshed guidance about which children should be attending school, including those with a social worker or an EHC plan or who are classed as “vulnerable”.

He mentioned “children on the edge of receiving support”, adding: "Please use your professional judgement and discretion, working in partnership with other professionals bodies to consider whether you should provide continued education provision to these children."

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“The letter from Gavin Williamson recognises that the decision over whether a child defined as vulnerable is better off being in school or at home is a nuanced one.

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach and, as the secretary of state makes clear, the decision on attendance is likely to be based on finely-balanced discussions between all parties.

"Everybody is concerned that the number of vulnerable children attending emergency provision is very low, and we are all doing our best to reach out to families who would benefit from this provision.

"But we must bear in mind that the definition of vulnerable covers a range of circumstances, and in many instances it is perfectly safe for the child concerned to be supported at home rather than coming into school.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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