The coronavirus act 2020 threatens to be a blunt instrument that has the potential to exacerbate societal problems and disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, especially children in schools across the UK. The protection of the most vulnerable children is often seen as the Cinderella of societal issues. Well if children’s issues as a whole are often neglected and often seen as an afterthought, the issue of bullying and violence in schools would probably best be described as Cinderellas dirty little secret.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 will affect many children but especially children with special needs and disabilities. The act is in place for up to the next two years and can be extended. One of the most concerning aspects of the bill, is that it relaxes the legal duty on the local authorities by government, to provide support to some of the most vulnerable in schools.
Up until now there has been very little discussion and debate by any of the Government, professionals or charities about the issues that many children will undoubtably bring back into a school environment when they return after Corvid 19. So much of the talk has been about the issue of keeping children safe from the virus. My concern though is not the enemy that we can’t see but the problems that I foresee will manifest quite clearly in children’s behaviour, when they try to return to normality in schools and deal with all the dysfunction and potential mental health issues that this current crisis has caused.
As mentioned in the previous post, to keep children safe amidst any dysfunction, there is going to need to be massive investment in resources to support much of the physical and psychological trauma many of the children will have faced over the last few weeks and months. The Coronavirus Act and this particular area of legislation, runs contrary to the obvious demand that will exist for greater support in schools, especially in personnel, by giving Government and Authorities license to provide much less than was ever available before. This is an absolute recipe for disaster and in the context of our campaign of bullying and violence increasing in schools over the last few years and leading to more and more serious incidents of harm and suicide, there have to be appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that this simply can’t happen.
Our campaign to ensure correct policies and laws and procedures are in place to hold all schools and authorities to account, is now more important than ever and it’s imperative that the DfE and Secretary of State Gavin Williamson start to take our concerns seriously. When resources are tight and the temptation to take shortcuts in regards safety is potentially a problem, schools cannot be left, as they have been over the last few decades, to police themselves. It’s time for those who care for the most vulnerable to stand with us and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.