Glasgow needs more cash to re-open schools

More money and greater detail on plans to re-open in August are needed in Glasgow schools, education secretary John Swinney has been told.

Soryia Siddique has written to John Swinney

Glasgow Labour’s education spokeswoman Bailie Soryia Siddique has sent a letter to Mr Swinney, the deputy First Minister, calling for extra cash.

She states “new” and “sustained” funding is needed to address the “now widened attainment gap” – the difference in educational performance between the richest and poorest pupils.

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The letter also asks for more information on returning to schools in August, including the scientific evidence behind the decision and details on the test, trace and isolate strategy for education facilities.

Bailie Siddique requests full engagement with parents and carers from all socio-economic backgrounds, including “our most diverse communities that are most impacted by inequality”, as well as unions and teaching staff.

“Parents are key stakeholders and there will be a myriad of views,” she adds.

She has asked for clarity on the requirement of PPE, and to be assured there is a continued supply.

Details on the need for deep cleans, the provision of meals and the arrangement of school transport have also been requested.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said they would respond to Bailie Siddique in due course.

She added: “The plan for a full-time return to schools is conditional on infection rates being sufficiently low to continue to suppress the virus, public health and testing systems being in place risk assessments being carried out in schools and protective measures, including the use of PPE where appropriate, being in place.

“We are committed to publishing the scientific evidence and public health advice that underpins our planning and through the Education recovery Group, we will continue to meet councils, teachers’ representatives, parent bodies and trades unions, over the summer to discuss the next steps.” 

On the attainment gap, the Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise that the disruption and challenges caused by the pandemic are hitting children from disadvantaged backgrounds particularly hard and we have been encouraging schools to target support where it is most needed.”

She added local authorities are being given the flexibility “to redirect resources aimed at closing the attainment gap”, including £250m for Pupil Equity Funding over the next two years.

Bailie Siddique also asked when parents will have access to 1140 hours of early learning and childcare, after the roll out of the policy was paused due to the pandemic.

In response, the spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with our partners in local government to ensure that as many children and families as possible can benefit from an expanded offer while we agree a new timetable for full delivery of 1140 hours entitlement.

“We have published guidance on public health measures for safe reopening of ELC and we confirmed an indicative reopening date of July 15.

“Child and staff safety and wellbeing are at the heart of the guidance.”