School’s out, for January

As soon as the Education Secretary was insisting a few days ago that schools would re-open on time in January you knew full well that they wouldn’t, such is the usual comms method of this government during the pandemic.

Insist something is definitely not going to happen, then float the idea in the Telegraph or the Times that you might have to do the thing, and see how much pushback you get from backbench Tory MPs. And then be forced into the u-turn on it by the scientific advice, but make the decision too late. It is like living through an episode of Yes, Minister.

The government that just ordered Waltham Forest’s schools to be closed next week is the very same cast of chancers who were threatening headteachers in the borough with legal action for trying to close schools for a couple of days in the lead-up to Xmas when they could see that case numbers were soaring. Of course, there’s no apology or even admission that this was an error.

And yesterday, when they issued the list of areas affected by the new closures, they got the list wrong. Ten months into the Covid crisis and it is still government by arrogant 🤡🚗.

I have complex feelings about schools being closed again, because it’s obviously personally a right pain to have to try and work from home and home school at the same time. However, I’m very conscious that I am one of the lucky ones. My job means that I can do that, and my kids are fortunate that the IT provision in our house is such that everyone can get on with their work. Other parents and children are very much not in that position. My heart goes out to those who this is much harder for.

I also really worry that the longer this goes on, the more it is going to entrench educational inequality even more in a whole cohort of our kids.

But equally, we need to take action to stop the spread of the virus. The government need to get the virus under control, which unlike in New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam, they have spectacularly and expensively failed to do.