It was announced by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that colleges, primary and secondary schools are to remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, and all other children must learn remotely until February half-term.
Thousands of young people in Sheffield are still unable to access online learning due to not having a suitable device to learn from at home so some have returned to classroom learning.
Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, cabinet member for education and skills at Sheffield Council, said: “We don’t have any statistics on this currently, but we do know that demand for school places has risen for both key worker children and vulnerable children including those without access to a laptop.
“We have made a conscious effort in Sheffield to make sure children can continue with their education during this lockdown, and we encourage anyone with any concerns or questions to get in touch with their child’s school so we can look into it as a matter of urgency.”
Stephen Betts, chief executive at Learn Sheffield, added: “The government’s delay in publishing guidance has caused a great deal of uncertainty for schools and their communities. The guidance outlines a wider group of vulnerable pupils who should be in school and also the criteria for ‘critical worker children’ who should be kept at home if parents and carers can do so but are eligible for places if not.”
Government guidance published at the end of last week advises parents: ‘You should keep your child at home if you can.‘
However, Mr Betts reiterated that parents will not be penalised for their child’s absence during this national lockdown.
Sheffield MPs have written to the Government, highlighting the importance of children having the necessary laptops and equipment to access online learning.MP for Sheffield Heeley, Louise Haigh, said an ‘urgent’ response to the situation was required, while MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, Gill Furniss, has called for the Minister for School Standards to make it a ‘national priority’.
Parent/carer guidance can be found: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/951035/210108_Parents_Guidance_vF.pdf