‘Get schools back now’, says Mersey business leader

Frank McKenna, chief executive of Liverpool-based Downtown in Business, says the delays in the return of education is hurting children and the economy. Tony McDonough reports

Children, kids, school, classroom, education
We must get children back to school, says Frank McKenna

 

A Liverpool city region business leader is calling for the full return of schools to get children back into education and give local firms a chance to recover.

Frank McKenna, chief executive of Liverpool-based business lobby and membership organisation Downtown in Business (DIB) says continued delays to the full return of schools due to the coronavirus crisis is hurting both children and business.

School have remained partially open during the epidemic to make sure the children of key workers were looked after but there is still a lack of progress on a full return on the education system.

Mr McKenna says that he and business owners are beyond frustrated at the lack of progress being made – which is not only impacting on kids, but provides an additional challenge for SMEs who are trying to get their teams back to work. He is calling for:

  • Zoom lessons throughout the state school sector, straight away.
  • A ‘staggered’ rota for children going into school, if social distancing remains an issue.
  • An August return of schools, instead of September.
  • A much shorter summer break in 2021, to help children catch-up on education.

Mr McKenna said: “We need a ‘back to school plan’ showing the Government, local authorities, head teachers and teaching unions working together for the country’s children.

“I am sure we are all delighted that the pubs are re-opening next month. It is also a cause for celebration that we can now shop, visit outdoor attractions, create social bubbles, go to the cinema, get a haircut, visit a museum and take kids to children’s playgrounds.

Frank McKenna, chief executive of Downtown in Business. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

“However, to have no clear road map showing how we are going to re-open schools is nothing short of a scandal. By the time the September term starts – and even that seems uncertain at present – kids will have missed half a year of education.

“Undoubtedly, the Education Minister should have done more to create a strategy for teachers and parents to get behind. But well-paid head-teachers, the army of teaching professionals and their powerful unions should be doing more to get our schools operating again.”

Mr Kenna says he is “at a loss” to understand why we have not seen the emergence of more teachers presenting Zoom classes to their pupils. He added: “If social distancing is a concern, then why haven’t schools produced rotas whereby children can ‘stagger’ their hours, much in the same way as office workers are now having to do.

“Similarly, why hasn’t there been more effort in utilising the spaces that have been redundant for months, such as community centres, church halls, event stadiums and hotels?

“The lack of progress in this key area cannot continue. For the sake of children, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, and for the sake of the economy, we need urgent action from Government, councils and teachers now.” 

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