23 November 2020
Sir Iain Duncan Smith seeks clearer and consistent advice guidance on covid for schools

Sir Iain Duncan Smith calls on the Secretary of State for Education to ensure that schools receive clear and consistent advice on when pupil groups or year groups need to isolate.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)

Thank you for squeezing me in, Mr Speaker.

It was absolutely right for the Government to keep schools open through the tiered system and lockdown, despite the pressure on my right hon. Friend from some of the unions and various others. One of the things that ​many teachers in my area have complained about is the patchiness of some of the advice its application: whole school groups—sometimes whole year groups—are going down because of the fear of infection. Would my right hon. Friend or the Schools Minister be prepared to deal with the guidance again and possibly participate in an online roundtable with my teachers, who are very keen to speak to them?

Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Education)

I absolutely assure my right hon. Friend that the Schools Minister would love to do that with his teachers, and is enthusiastically penning in the date. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) is right that there have been some inconsistencies. That is why we set up the national helpline to ensure there is consistency of advice, and are working with schools groups and schools trusts to support them to ensure there is a common approach. We know that getting children into schools, where they have the benefit of education and learning, will give them the best opportunities, and that is why it continues to remain our focus.