Nearly one in four adults in the UK have now received their first dose of a Covid vaccine. I have been pleased to hear from constituents who have had an excellent experience of receiving their vaccine at one of the local centres. NHS teams and volunteers are working incredibly hard to make the vaccine roll out so successful. I know many people are grateful even to the extent of arriving with homemade cakes to fuel our vaccinators! The Crawley centre, with support from Army personnel, has had a successful first ten days.
As more people are inoculated and (we hope) lockdown continues to bring down case numbers, relieving what is still intense pressure in our local hospitals, I know everyone will be looking to see when restrictions can start to be eased.
This will be a gradual process and schools, which were the last to close, must be the first reopen. It has been a dreadful year and I know this has been keenly felt by our young people. I am concerned by the impact school closures have had (which Ofsted has made clear) and we are all keen to see all children, as soon as it is safe to do so, back learning in the classroom.
Young people and their teachers have had to adapt to new ways of learning. I know this has been tough but I am delighted to hear from parents who have been impressed with the quality of home learning. Our teachers have done a fantastic job in ensuring their students are provided with engaging home learning whilst also providing ongoing in-school teaching to the children of key workers among others; the numbers in school have doubled since the first lockdown.
Our teachers also worked, post the first lockdown, to help children “catch up”. Although teachers, students (and parents) have all got more familiar with remote learning this is an inevitable challenge for when schools reopen.
Last week the Prime Minister appointed a new Education Recovery Commissioner, who is using the next few weeks, drawing ideas from across the sector, to propose further measures to address missed face to face teaching time. The Government have announced a further £300 million for tutoring programmes, to add to last year’s £1 billion Covid Catch Up Fund.
All of this will be alongside ongoing long term investment in education – on which note I was delighted to see the announcement last week that Greenway School has been awarded funding from the Department for Education as part of its First 50 Rebuilding Programme.