Iain Dale challenges former Education Secretary Damian Hinds on new school plans

2 July 2020, 21:17

By Fiona Jones

Iain Dale challenged Conservative MP and former Education Secretary Damian Hinds about the government's new plan which maps out the return to school in September.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced new safety rules for schools in England that involves classes and year groups being kept apart in separate "bubbles".

Iain asked if Mr Hinds thought the plans were safe, particularly for teachers.

The MP replied that the plan was "pretty comprehensive" and while there is trepidation "it is important children get back to school."

"There are going to be difficulties but the question more is what would you do instead?" Mr Hinds said, "this is a communicable disease without a vaccine, it's a global pandemic and we need children to be learning."

He conceded keeping children in bubbles will be "difficult to do" but maintained it was the right approach.

Iain countered that parents being fined for absent children from September is a controversial topic and asked whether the former Education Secretary thought this part of the approach was right.

Iain Dale questioned how safe the government's school plan would really be
Iain Dale questioned how safe the government's school plan would really be. Picture: PA/LBC

Mr Hinds said, "We should not be focusing on the fines element, we have compulsory education in this country and it's right that we get back to normal."

"Most families and most teachers...they want children to be coming back to school and recognising there are health risks to not coming back to school. Risks to their mental health, physical health, not having a routine, not seeing their friends."

Iain replied that this seems to be an example of the state saying "we know better than you as parents" and in a pandemic the concerns of parents can be understood.

Mr Hinds responded that it is understandable for parents to be concerned but the government has a strategy for flare ups if this occurs.

"All the way through this, quite rightly, the decisions have been based on and guided by what the scientists are able to tell us. It's still a couple of months away and there will be progress between now and then," he said, adding there is time for public's confidence to build up towards September.