Council Leader calls on Government to step up and support school staff and pupils

​The Leader of Wakefield Council is calling on the Government to vaccinate all teachers and support staff as a matter of priority, to support the safe reopening of schools as soon as possible.

Cllr Denise Jeffery said: "Our school teachers and support staff have done a tremendous job during the pandemic, adapting to a rapidly changing situation over the course of the last year. And they are yet again faced with school closures at a moment's notice.

"The continuous last minute changes and u-turns by Government have been unacceptable and potentially damaging to children and their families, causing further anxiety as they deal with the uncertainty and changing advice.

"Teachers and their colleagues are key, front line workers. We must do everything possible to support school leaders to reopen schools again as quickly, and as safely, as possible.

"This Government need to immediately recognise schools staff as a priority in the vaccination roll out. This will ensure we can get students back to school in the quickest way possible."

Wakefield Council is committed to supporting those most vulnerable during the lockdown. Cllr Jeffery said: "It is essential that pupils, particularly those who are the most vulnerable, do not suffer during this lockdown. We will be continuing to support the schools where we can, including providing equipment for home learning and ensuring that no child in the district goes hungry by being off school, we are looking at the best way to ensure that food is available for those who need it."

The Council also welcomed the news that the Government is considering alternatives to exams this summer, but is urging them to work with school leaders and teachers to find a fair and acceptable way forward.

Cllr Jeffery added: "Our local councillors have been calling for an alternative to exams for some time now, so we are pleased that this is finally being acknowledged by the Government. Learners' studies have been hugely disrupted, and it would be unfair and cause undue worry to face exams without the necessary preparation. However, none of us want to see the fiasco of last summer so I implore Government to work with teachers, as well as examining boards, to find the right way to do this with fairness and compassion." 

Cllr Margaret Isherwood, Wakefield Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added: "Our schools have our assurance that we will continue do everything we can to support them to ensure that students, particularly those that are vulnerable or disadvantaged, receive the support they need."