‘Get kids back to schools’ - PM’s plea as pandemic sees inequalities worsen

Prime minister Boris Johnson has relaxed lockdown guidelines. Photo credit should read: Pippa Fowles

Prime minister Boris Johnson has relaxed lockdown guidelines. Photo credit should read: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Children from underprivileged backgrounds are not returning to schools “in the numbers they could and should”, the prime minister had said.

Boris Johnson urged parents to “get their kids back into school” as he addressed the issues of worsening inequalities for children during the coronavirus lockdown at the final daily press briefing at No 10 Downing Street.

Speaking on Tuesday, June 23, the prime minister said the Covid-19 crisis had been “unfair” in its effects on children’s education.

It follows warnings by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that a generation of Norfolk’s children are at risk of being “failed” and “forgotten” as issues with already struggling support services are worsened by the impact of the pandemic.

READ MORE: SPECIAL REPORT: ‘Failed and forgotten’ - are a generation of our children being let down?

Experts fear the scale of the fallout on those already most at risk is being masked, with fears of “lifetime consequences” for those trapped in abusive homes, cut off from support services, and facing widening gaps in attainment.

The prime minister said: “I totally agree about one of the most unfair aspects of this crisis.”

He added: “One of the saddest things is that it’s kids from deprived backgrounds who really need to be back in school who perhaps aren’t going back into the primary school classes that are open in the numbers that they could and should and we already want to urge them and encourage parents to get their kids back into school, into early years, reception, year one and year six and we’re encouraging schools to take more children if they can fit them in.”

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When asked by the LDRS what he personally intended to do to tackle ingrained inequalities, the prime minister said there needed to be more investment in schools, infrastructure and broadband.

“We’ve got to look at what is happening across the whole of the country,” he said. “There are areas that do need more investment in schools, in buildings and we’re going to be doing a lot on that.

“We’re putting out a huge programme to get rural broadband in - such a vital thing for communities that are more remote or have been left behind.”

And he added: “Particularly for young people, I want to see much more direct contact with teachers, more one-to-one tutoring of the kind we’re now supporting through the catch up programme.

“That’s very important not just for kids who are falling behind but for all kids. I think it makes a huge difference to their lives.”

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