Shadow schools minister: Williamson needs to stop 'failing' and vaccinate teachers

25 January 2021, 15:51

By Fiona Jones

Shadow schools minister Wes Streeting is calling for the education secretary to roll out mass testing for teachers, after making many 'fundamental failures.'

His comments came after the PM announced that teachers and parents will be told when schools in England can reopen "as soon as we can."

MPs including Mr Streeting are urging the Government to set out clear criteria for children returning to schools, amid concerns for education.

Mr Streeting told LBC: "Gavin Williamson's got to listen to the people are making about the effectiveness of the Government's strategy for rolling out mass testing.

"What we ended up with was an announcement on the last day of term just before Christmas that schools were going to be expected to do it. They were expected to do it from the first week of term, they had little help from the Government.

"The Government announced with some fanfare the army were going to be involved - which gave everyone the impression soldiers would be helping schools with the relief effort - in fact that was really a call centre function."

The shadow schools minister said this issue "all comes down to some of the fundamental failures of the Department of Education and Gavin Williamson."

"You have to have a clear plan to make this stuff work," Mr Streeting said, urging for a "robust plan" for the roll out of mass testing.

Mr Streeting continued that there must be also be clarity around the criteria for children returning to schools.

"No one wants to put efforts to tackle the infection rate at risk but at the same time we're also very conscious of the fact children who are currently learning from home, despite the best efforts of their carers and parents and teachers, it really is no substitute for being in the classroom.

"This is going to have a really lasting impact on a whole generation if we're not careful."

He told LBC that when he asked the Department for Education about the criteria for children returning, they admitted they had none.