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Educational Settings - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:04 pm on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Grender Baroness Grender Liberal Democrat 12:04 pm, 19th March 2020

My Lords, I declare an interest as a chair of governors at an inner-city primary school. I want to share some of the questions that my head teacher seeks clarification on.

First, only in the last hour have we had a communication from a social worker who is now working from home; they are attached to a vulnerable child but will be unable to see them. They are therefore asking the school to be the lead player in this relationship, rather than them. If the Minister does not have answer on this, it would be very helpful to have clarification soon on who leads in such a relationship. Whether people are working from home, or vulnerable families are self-isolating at the moment, who is the key worker who owns that relationship? If it is the school, then by all means it is the school, but we lack clarity on that at the moment. We already have a specific problem there.

My second question is about those families who are not in the free school meals category but are in-work poor. What are we going to do about them? For instance, would the Minister allow a head teacher discretionary powers to determine which families should get additional support, rather than the statutory voucher version of free school meals? Where is the ability for a head teacher, who knows the community well and can identify the children they know will not have a decent meal during this period, to use their discretion?