Government must prove scrapping of school bubbles 'isn't political', says teachers union

6 July 2021, 17:51

By Tim Dodd

The UK government needs to show its decision to end school Covid bubbles is based on science "not political convenience."

The comments by Deputy General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers Nick Brook came after Gavin Williamson announced that school children will no longer need to isolate unless they test positive for Covid after August 16

Eddie began by asking Mr Brook: "You wonder about some of these measures, you certainly wonder about their timing when cases are surging. What aspect of this is political?"

Mr Brook replied: "We've always wanted to make sure that the decisions that are taken are driven by data and not by dates, and that's where I think if the government can bring forward the clinical evidence they've received around this, to give reassurance to parents and staff in schools that the decisions that have been taken are the right ones."

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Eddie then challenged Mr Brook: "I'm not quite sure what the political aspect of this is, you're worried that the timing of this is political? What do you mean?"

"I mean that the decision is being driven by dates and not necessarily by data," Mr Brook said.

"It's about bringing forward the evidence to show that the advice that they will be taking can reassure school leaders... That it's the safe thing to do, it's the right thing to do, and we're not being reckless with the safety of children or staff working in schools."

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Eddie then asked Mr Brook whether he was suggesting the UK government would put the health of children and teachers at risk for political reasons.

Mr Brook said: "It's for the government to answer what the motivations are or why they would hold back on the evidence."

The Education Secretary has confirmed "some protective measures will remain" for the autumn term, including "enhanced hygiene and ventilation" but after step four, face coverings will no longer be advised for pupils, staff or visitors.

Regular home testing will continue until the end of September while secondary schools and colleges will be asked to provide two on-site tests at the start of term.