Schools are reopening and Government wants to pretend Covid is fixed. But this stance puts the lives of children, their families, and teaching staff at risk.
Even children and families with serious medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable to Covid are expected to return to school – without any protective measures. Government’s policy requires no contact tracing by schools, no bubbles, and tells families who are vulnerable to just “follow the same guidance as everyone else.”
Parents who are frightened of what this means for their kids or vulnerable family members face fines or prosecution if they keep their kids at home until schools are made safe. And some schools and local authorities are bullying families into deregistering children.
We don’t think this state of affairs is lawful – and it is certainly not right. We commissioned written legal advice from leading educational specialists Fiona Scolding QC and Yaaser Vanderman – and promised we would publish it. It can now be accessed here.
The legal advice says (1) fines or prosecutions for not attending school could – depending on the facts – be unlawful; and (2) vulnerable children or children who belong to vulnerable families may have a legal right to be provided with an education at home.
We are now writing to Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, asking him to issue guidance that protects vulnerable children and families. We will make the same request of a sample of local authorities and schools. If those letters do not draw adequate responses we will begin court proceedings to ensure compliance with the law.
Plainly we want children back in school. But the transition to a world with Covid is complex. It will take time and sensitivity. And what we want in the meantime is for Governments, local authorities and schools to support the reasonable assessments of loving families of what is in the interests of their children and other vulnerable family members.
If you are in a position to support our legal challenge you can do so here: https://glplive.org/keep-children-safe-cj
We are grateful to the grass-roots organisations that support us, and whom we support, in this work including ShieldUs, The Hive, Clinically Vulnerable Families, The Vulnerable and Shielding Network, One Voice, Safe Ed for All, Parents United, and Long Covid Kids.
Good Law Project only exists thanks to donations from ordinary people across the UK. If you’re in a position to support our work, you can do so here.