School closures should have been planned for, say MPs

Pandemic planning predicted schools would close yet there was no government plan for continuing learning, says report

William Stewart

Coronavirus: School closures were predicted in the government's pandemic planning - but there was no plan in place to keep learning going, say MPs

Ministers have been criticised for failing to put together support for schools closing, even though government’s own planning had warned that this would happen in the event of a pandemic.

Members of an influential parliamentary committee also find that the government’s response to schools having to close because of the coronavirus has been “poorly coordinated”, "disappointing" and has not taken the impact on pupils into account.

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The MPs warn that “there will need to be concerted efforts to ensure that the lengthy school closures do not have long-term or irreversible effects on children and young people’s future health and education”.

“School closures were predicted in pandemic planning, yet there seems to have been no plan or support for how schools and pupils would be supported to continue to learn,” the report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee into the "Whole of Government Response to Covid-19" reads.

School closures 'were predicted in pandemic planning'

It adds: “The government’s response in some areas has been poorly coordinated and has not adequately taken into account long-term impacts on people and communities. For example, the government’s ‘stop-start’ approach to school closures risks major harm to many children’s life chances, exacerbating already existing inequalities.”

The MPs use the response on school closures as an example of government departments failing to work together.  

Their report says: “On the impact of lockdown and school closures on children’s life chances and inequalities, both the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that this was a question for the Department for Education.

“We recognise, of course, that the Department for Education is in the lead on education, but it was disappointing that the Cabinet Office and the ministry had very little to say from the cross-government perspective or on the impact for local authorities.

“While the Cabinet Office agreed in theory that inter-departmental cooperation was essential, there was little concrete evidence of how this worked in practice.”

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William Stewart

William Stewart

William Stewart is News editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @wstewarttes

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