Lord Blunkett: Education gap is widening, children have to return to school in September

29 June 2020, 11:50

By Seán Hickey

The former Education Secretary highlighted disparity in education, and how the gap between public and state schoolchildren has widened during lockdown.

It has been announced in the past days that the government is introducing fines if children don't return to schools in September. Lord David Blunkett, former Labour Education Secretary was sharing his views on whether the decision is wise.

NicK Ferrari wanted to know if Lord Blunkett would "support the line that's coming from the Prime Minister which is, your child must return in September, and if your child does not, you or your husband or wife is liable to be fined."

He told Nick that he "would support it being positioned from September if there is not another major crisis in terms of the virus, simple as that really."

Nick worried about the education gap widening during lockdown, pointing out to the former Education Secretary that students that are unable to have the same access to technology and resources as other students "might never catch up" after lockdown.

Lord Blunkett pointed out that "85% of secondary school children in private education have had a full timetable - full curriculum online. It's estimated that 11% of those in state schools have had it.

"There are reasons for that, the resources, the pupil teacher ratios are different, the equipment the children have got as you've just described.

"But it's not acceptable, and it can't carry on, and that's why getting them back will be important."

Lord Blunkett stressed that the education gap cannot be allowed to get wider
Lord Blunkett stressed that the education gap cannot be allowed to get wider. Picture: PA

Nick also asked the former Labour Home Secretary for his view of attacks on the police, where it is reported over 140 officers were involved in some form of physical attack over the course of last week. He was asked what his message to police chiefs across the country would be amid the news.

Lord Blunkett told Nick that if officers "haven't got the power, the spot power to arrest and fine people then we need to give it to you.

"Parliament needs to respond in whatever way is necessary" to fight against anti-social behaviour and support police, Lord Blunkett said, adding that "we need to come down like a tonne of bricks" on people ignoring police authority.

"Next week when the pubs open it could be a lot worse, and that would be outrageous because it would put the rest of the population at risk" he warned, reiterating the point that the police need more power.

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