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Church of England Schools: Support for Children and Parents

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked – in the House of Commons on 19th May 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I would like to thank very warmly and pay tribute to all the teachers and staff in Church schools who are providing teaching and care for children at this difficult time. They have moved rapidly to provide online lessons and resources, and are looking after children of key workers and overseeing the distribution of free school meal vouchers. The Church is also delighted to have partnered with the Oak National Academy to provide assemblies and weekly collective worship.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (North of England) (Northern Powerhouse), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Food and Rural Affairs)

Here in Cumbria and the South Lakes, headteachers of Church schools—in fact, of all schools—do want to return on 1 June, but of course they see protecting the safety of their school community as their first and primary responsibility. Will the hon. Gentleman make strong representations to the Department for Education about supporting those schools that decide to stay closed for the time being for safety reasons, especially given new Government guidance against schools using flexible approaches for returning pupils?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. In addition to being Second Church Estates Commissioner, I am a governor myself of a Church school, and I actually attended a governors meeting by Zoom early this morning looking at exactly these issues. I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, and I will make sure that his comments are fed in. I know that the Department for Education is taking these issues very seriously and will proceed cautiously, as we would all expect it to do.