Lambeth primary schools to have ‘bubbles’ of around six children with one adult, when they return

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Lambeth primary schools will have ‘bubbles’ of around six children and an adult who spend the day together on returning to classrooms in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The measure align with national Government guidance on schools reopening safely.

The bubble plans, along with providing PPE and learning outdoors, were set out at an overview and scrutiny meeting on Tuesday.

Committee members grilled the council leader and cabinet members over a host of issues, including how children in care were being looked after, foster care placements, free school meal vouchers, schools reopening, and children not having access to the internet or laptops.

Various conditions concerning children and young people were agreed at the end of the meeting, including asking for reassurance that schools could reopen safely, addressing the digital access divide among pupils, gathering information on children who have lost out on learning, ensuring a catch-up package is created, and ensuring that the experience of children under the council’s care during the pandemic is assessed and learned from.

Councillor Ed Davie, cabinet member for children and young people, addressed concerns about schools reopening in June, and the measures being put in place to allow children back safely.

The Government has five tests that must be met to ease the lockdown, which are making sure the NHS can cope, a ‘sustained and consistent’ fall in the daily death rate, the rate of infection decreasing to ‘manageable levels’, ensuring supply of tests and PPE can meet future demand, and being confident any adjustments would not risk a second peak.

The National Education Union has its own five tests, including much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases, a national plan for social distancing, more testing, a ‘whole school’ strategy that can be “strictly followed”, and protecting the vulnerable.

Cllr Davie said: “The guidance is that it’s from June 1, not on June 1.

“It’s also contingent on the Government announcing on May 28 whether its own five tests have been met or not.

“We as an administration have put down a motion supporting working with the unions around the five tests that the NEU has formulated.

“Three of these tests in the NEU are national things we don’t have much control over locally, like the number of Covid-19 infections.

“But where we do have some agency locally we are working with the NEU and other trade unions, headteachers and families, and the Lambeth School Partnership to support them to be as ready as possible to increase the number of children going to schools as quickly as possible as quickly as it is safe.”

More than 35 councils in England have warned the Government that not all of their primary schools will reopen on June 1, mainly over safety concerns.

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