Government must prioritise children in its planning beyond January, says Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly
Barnardos is calling on the Government to prioritise children living in vulnerable families as schools are set to close for a second time.
The charity is calling for a plan to be made available that includes measures to ensure children, who have already felt the brunt of closures, will not again fall victim.
"Many of the thousands of children that Barnardos work with, mainly those living in situations where they face additional challenges in the home such as addiction, poor mental health, domestic violence, low educational attainment or financial challenges, suffered greatly during the last school closures," says Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly.
“These children don’t have access to supports at home, they may not have WiFi devices to support home schooling or the support at home to engage in any remote learning options available. More worryingly, when a school closes they lose social and emotional support, access to a trusted adult, and a reliant stable environment. For these children, school is more than just school.
“We are asking that consideration be given to these children that we have already seen fall behind and the groups that suffer mostly from school closures. Apart from those facing into major examinations, it is young children that face longer-term impacts. The first few years in school is where they learn the fundamentals for their life learnings such as reading, writing, maths and importantly social interaction outside of the home. To miss more of this will damage their potential to progress.
“We are calling on leadership from Government and for everyone to work together in the best interests of the children. In the short-term we need to put in measures to support these children so they don’t fall further behind in life, but predominantly we need to work together to ensure a safe and speedy reopening of all schools," Ms Connolly adds.