Friday, 29 May 2020

Pressure mounts on Brent Council as Brent TUC calls for schools to remain closed until NEU's 5 Tests satisfied

Brent Trade Union Council has sent the following letter to Cllr Muhammed Butt (Leader of the Council) and Cllr Krupesh Hirani:

Following a recent online meeting organised by Brent Trades Council at which Dawn Butler MP, Barry Gardiner MP, supported by Tulip Siddip MP, trade unionists from Brent branches of the GMB, Unite, NEU, RMT and medical and health and safety experts spoke of the risks in Brent from the spread of the virus. The high numbers of deaths caused by poverty, a densely populated borough could see a further a spike if schools re-open on 1st June.

I urge you as Chair of Brent Trades Council to ensure Brent schools remain as they currently are catering for small groups of vulnerable pupils or for children of frontline workers.
I note that the governments in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and the authorities in Liverpool and Hartlepool are so deeply concerned that it is not yet safe for children, school staff, parents and our local communities to allow schools to do so that they have decided against this course of action. Some London local authorities have done the same. I believe Brent should do the same.

I believe that in proposing the phased return of primary pupils from 1st June onwards, the government has put forward a reckless timetable. The wider opening of schools should only go ahead when it is safe to do so. It is unconscionable to shift the responsibility for safety in schools and the wider community onto individual headteachers without a safe national framework.

The government has demonstrated a lack of understanding around the dangers of the spread of Covid-19 from schools to the family home, and from the family home to relatives and carers, and consequently the dangers of transmission to the wider community. There are too many clinical unknowns about how this virus impacts on children. The reports of a Kawasaki-like disease already linked to 100 cases in the U.K have caused great alarm to parents. The heartbreaking death of 8 month old Alexander Parsons has sent shockwaves across the nation. The death of one child alone is one too many.

Giving evidence to the Science and Technology Committee this week, the Department for Education’s Chief Scientific Adviser admitted the Government’s plan could risk spreading coronavirus since there is a "low degree of confidence" that children transmit the virus less than adults. It is simply impossible to apply social distancing to small children, who want to touch, play and hug. It is cruel to try to separate them, to tell them they may not touch each other, to take away their soft toys, and to not pick them up and comfort them when they fall.

Brent Trades Concil fully supports the National Education Union’s #FiveTests and believes there should be full disclosure of the advice relating to the re-opening of schools whether it is from SAGE, the schools sub division, some other combination of its members or from Public Health England (as suggested by the DfE’s Chief Scientific Adviser in his evidence) with any underlying scientific evidence, data or modelling on which that advice is based.
It makes little sense for children to return before September. It would be far better to be working collaboratively towards the implementation of safe conditions which would permit a safe 'wider opening.’ This should be the objective rather than a fixed date. This is what other countries including Scotland and Wales are doing.

Brent Trades Council welcomes your decision to support school staff who do not feel safe to return to work but as chair I ask you to support teaching staff and parents alike in insisting that schools remain closed until the NEU’s #FiveTests have been satisfied. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in response to the concerns raised in this email.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Adossides
Brent Trades Council

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is clear from interviews on the radio this morning that the Government is NOT following the scientific advice, which is that the rate of infection needs to be lower, and an effective and proven testing/contact tracing system needs to be in place, before lockdown measures are relaxed.

The Government has made a political decision, that it is worth risking more deaths, particularly among the elderly and those with existing health problems, in order to get more people back to work (with more children back in school), for the sake of the economy.

If our Government was honest enough to tell us that, we might have more respect for them.