I have been disappointed to find out from schools both local to Basingstoke and slightly further afield that the Government advice for reopening their doors to the children of this Borough appears to be confusing, contradictory or incomplete.

At times guidance from the Department for Education is at odds with that from Public Health England; even now the British Medical Association is supporting the NEU highlighting that it has “considered the evidence available on the reopening of schools and has found it to be thus far conflicting…”

The Prime Minister announced on 10th May that schools “at the earliest by June 1...may be in a position to begin the phased reopening…and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6” yet I have heard from one secondary school that YR10 will also be asked to return in some form from that period. Considering the advice from Mr Johnson was that “secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays” what has changed in the advice he and his cabinet receive that means that students should be returning earlier and if they have that advice available, maybe they can release it to ALL schools across the country.

I, like many parents across the town, want to see my children return to school where they can receive proper education from those that are qualified to deliver it but considering most schools, it seems, haven’t got the full guidance and therefore cannot implement proper safety provisions how can the children’s safety and wellbeing be properly looked after? As a husband of a teacher, I know that she has serious concerns on how to deliver a safe environment that doesn’t just protect our children but also the lives of their family members who this horrid virus could be spread to. With the R number having risen this week, surely the health of our youngest should not be put on the line so cheaply!

Maybe our MP Maria Miller, or our local council, can start to work with the Primary and Secondary schools across the town to understand what the issues are that they are facing and help them address their concerns with colleagues and counterparts at Hampshire or within the DfE because as far as I have heard from schools, this hasn’t happened!

Alex Lee, Labour Candidate for Winklebury & Manydown