Children

Further cuts in SEND provision

Many councils across the country — the National Audit Office estimates over two dozen — are negotiating with the government for bailouts to make it possible to balance their 2021-22 budgets. Cuts in school special needs and disabilities (SEND) spending are among those demanded “in return” by at least five councils. Details for Bury, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond-upon Thames and Stoke on Trent have been published on the Department for Education website and reported by Schools Week. Some councils now promise to meet special needs in a “more cost-effective way within...

Calling out Compass

Images of free-school-meal-substitute “hampers” flooded across social media in mid-January, and very quickly the story was picked up by the mainstream media. Tweeter @RoadsideMum had received her “hamper” as the parent of two children. Supposedly enough to last ten days, it wouldn’t have sustained a hungry teenager for more than about fifteen minutes. Other families started to photograph their “hampers”. Half a tomato wrapped in cellophane. Half a tin of tuna in a money bag. Chartwells bill the government £30 per hamper. A quick trip to Asda online priced the contents at slightly under £5.50...

Back to school: workers' control to make it safe

The government has a campaign to persuade parents that it will be safe to send children back to schools in England in September, following the return in Scotland on 11 August. Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Advisor to the UK government, says, reasonably, that it is important that all children are in school and that “the chances of children dying from Covid-19 are incredibly small.” Whitty added that there are no risk-free options but that children would suffer much more from long-term health and mental health problems by remaining out of school than from dangers associated from Covid-19. That is...

Make the schools safe!

The government’s aspiration to partially open schools on 1 June is likely to be largely unrealised. While we all want children back in schools, as soon as safe enough, that is good. Success in resisting unsafe reopening is dependent on union strength on the ground. We must fight for rank-and-file school worker control over the strategy, locally and nationally.

Children, parents, school workers: stand together!

The education unions are right to say schools should not accept further mass return of pupils until the five tests are met. We should fully support any school workers who will take action on health and safety grounds from 1 June to keep their workplaces open only to vulnerable and key workers’ children. That does not mean we, or school workers, are oblivious to how difficult school closures have been on families. Solidarity has covered, and will continue to cover, the increased risk of domestic violence and neglect in a stressful period with less contact between the household and the outside...

The rollbacks so far

Above: the youngest school children are returning in Queensland, Australia A provisional “lockdown rollback” checklist compiled by researchers at Oxford University bit.ly/ready-rb puts the UK fourth from bottom among all the world’s countries for readiness to roll back lockdown measures. The detail of the list is unreliable, but daily deaths have gone down less than in other European countries which are “rolling back”. Daily new confirmed cases aren’t really going down. Supplies of PPE are still inadequate in the NHS and care homes, let alone in other places. Isolation pay rights are patchy...

Child care cut

At the same time that schools are generally closed, and few of the children registered as “vulnerable” are turning up to the limited school provision which continues, the government has (on 23 April) published a decree suspending many of the social care obligations of local councils. For example, the duty to arrange social worker visits to children in care at least every six weeks has been removed. The requirement for six-monthly independent reviews of a child’s care has been removed. And much more.

The feminist issues round "staying home"

More and more of us will be advised or forced to stay home for whole periods, and to stay home longer each week even when we are going to work. We must remember that for many women and children, staying home comes with additional dangers of its own. In the 2015 Ebola outbreak when Sierra Leone shut schools, girls removed from school took on care work and were also at heightened risk of sexual abuse and teen pregnancy. Activist reports and police statistics both report a spike in domestic violence in Wuhan as a result of strict curfews. The New York public school system has announced school...

Other motions not passed - AWL conference 2019

Motions on left antisemitism, the Hijab in schools, and social security and Labour's policy, were all submitted to AWL conference 2019. The conference decided that the first of these motions - on left antisemitism - should not be voted on, after a debate; the second, on the Hijab in schools, fell; the third - on social security - were not voted on, as decided before any debate.

The hijab: “preventing common impositions”

Maryam Namazie is an activist with the Council of Ex-Muslims and other secularist groups. See here for wider debate in Solidarity on the ban of the hijab in schools. On the issue of child veiling, a state ban on conspicuous religious symbols for children is an important defence of children’s rights. Children are not parental property Children are not the property of their parents. They are individuals with rights and bodily integrity. And just because their parents believe in child veiling or FGM and male circumcision doesn’t mean they should be automatically entitled to impose their views on...

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