Former Education Secretary Alan Johnson: "Kids need to go back to school"

18 May 2020, 10:45

By Adrian Sherling

Alan Johnson questioned why we're ok for postal workers and bin men working through the pandemic, but we're worried about schools reopening.

Teachers' unions have queried whether it is safe for children to return to school on 1st June - when the government plan for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 scheduled to go back.

Alan Johnson served as an Education Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor under the Labour government and told LBC that we need to learn how schools can run in the era of coronavirus.

He said: "Primary school kids went back in Denmark a month ago and they went back safely. There's a huge amount of evidence there. France are going back, Holland are going back.

"I've got lots of criticisms of the government about the way they are handling this, but what they are saying is this is a very limited return from 1st June and I think this is a measured approach.

"The evidence from other countries in Europe means that unions should receive the reassurances that they're naturally seeking. But the starting point of the debate has to be 'How do we resume our kids' education?'

"Covid's going to be around for a while yet and we can't lose so much time.

Alan Johnson wants to get children back to school
Alan Johnson wants to get children back to school. Picture: PA

"Why is it that we have to have food in our supermarkets, Royal Mail continuing to deliver, but we can ignore the education of our children?

"If this goes on for a year, are they saying there'll be no education at all in a year?

"So my argument is not that everything is safe and bright and fluffy, it's the opposite. We have to learn to live with Covid and living with it means we have to live with it, while still educating our children, while still getting food to supermarkets, while still getting post delivered.

"We have to get cracking and if the government can be criticised on this, it's that the government is not being radical enough."

Mr Johnson pointed out that there are 62 nurseries attached to NHS hospitals which have remained open and they suggest there is absolutely no transmission of coronavirus between the children.

Therefore, he thinks there is scope to send more children back to school.

Hear his full interview at the top of the page.

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