Sheffield headteachers request urgent help from MPs
Sheffield headteachers are requesting urgent help from MPs on a range of issues including Covid funding and exams uncertainty.
In an unprecedented action, hundreds of headteachers from across the country are joining together as part of grassroots school funding pressure group Worth Less? to address urgent priorities.
The "key issues", listed in a letter to their school’s local constituent’s MPs, include calling for contingency plans for GCSE and A-Levels to be urgently published, the costs of Covid-19 related expenditure to be reimbursed and that staff working in schools should be prioritised for Covid-19 testing.
Chris Holder, headteacher at Lowfield Primary in Sheffield said: “The government has to take schools’ concerns regarding funding and testing seriously. In order for us to remain open we are having to cover all staff absences as every member of staff is crucial to making school function safely and effectively.
"At one point my primary school had twenty-four staff off due to Covid. The cost of this cover alongside the considerable expense we have already incurred in order to make the school as Covid safe as possible isn’t sustainable without additional support. The limitations of the testing system have made the situation worse and this must improve.”
Cathy Rowland, headteacher at Dobcroft Infants added: “I have written to my MP Olivia Blake to explain why I am supporting the Worth Less? campaign. Like many school leaders I feel that the support from national government has been weak during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Whilst I accept that the situation is unique, guidance has often been last minute and contradictory. This has made a difficult task even more tricky. The government must listen to the profession so they understand the situation properly and work with us. We all just want what is best for the children in our care.”
The letter calls for MPs to take account of the significant ‘lost learning time’ for students and the wider mental health and other pressures they face during the pandemic.
They are asking for phonics screening and SATs to be replaced by teacher assessments in the summer of 2021.
The letter also states that where staffing levels are insufficient headteachers should be given the discretion to introduce a rota system of opening for students in secondary schools if all other options have been exhausted.