HOME-schooling parents have been given top marks by a head teacher who revealed their school had to turn away children of a few who tried to “game the system”.
The local head, who did not want to be named, said the overwhelming majority of parents have been doing “a brilliant job” and had seen “wonderful examples of innovative, fun and exciting home learning”.
But they added it was “disappointing” the school had to challenge some parents who applied to send their children in.
Government guidance states at least one parent needs to be a critical worker for their child to have access to schooling. All other pupils should stay at home unless they absolutely must be placed in a school.
“I am delighted that so many parents, including parents who are both key workers and qualify for childcare provision, have taken the most safe and sensible decision to do all they can to keep their children at home during this time,” the head said.
“We have seen lovely junk modelling, singing, sporty challenges in the garden, crafts and online music lessons using apps to connect the children. The children and the parents staying at home are doing a tremendous service to their local and national community and we would like to thank them all for being so public spirited. You have been incredible.”
However, they added: “It is disappointing therefore that we have also been put in a position where we have had to challenge and turn away pupils where parents have tried to ‘game the system’ and get their child a place in the childcare provision on offer, despite the fact that there is an adult at home who could keep the child safely with them.
“This is frustrating and socially irresponsible as every child who attends school at this time dramatically increases the chances of viral spread.
“We are not being unwelcoming. We need to keep everyone safe and keep our childcare offer open for the longest possible time. This will only be possible if parents only use the childcare service as a service of last resort and send the children in as rarely and for as short a period as possible.”
Hampshire County Council has also praised schools and early years providers for their response in looking after vulnerable and key worker children as it plans to keep schools open throughout the Easter holidays.
Cllr Roz Chadd, the cabinet member for education and skills, said: “Schools, early years educators and childcare providers have been magnificent in responding to the government’s call to remain open for vulnerable and key worker children.
“We are also grateful to the parents and carers who are not critical workers and are caring for their children at home in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and, ultimately, save lives.
“We are continuing to support Hampshire schools and will be closely monitoring what is happening to ensure that we maintain that support, as far as possible, in the weeks and months ahead.”
The council has announced schools, early years centres, nurseries and childminders will continue to look after vulnerable children and those of key workers throughout the school Easter holidays, 6th to 17th April. This is in response to the Department for Education’s request to keep the provision in place over the holiday fortnight, including Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Cllr Chadd said: “Pre-schools, schools and childminders across the county have pulled out all the stops to ensure those children who are unable to remain at home safely can be cared for in their settings.
“Feedback from our partner agencies such as the NHS, the police, the military and the utilities has been overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the tremendous efforts of Hampshire’s educators in keeping vital services running. Knowing their children are being safely looked after by schools is important for key workers.
“That said, it is reassuring to see that, generally, the number of children accessing the provision has been lower than expected as parents have heeded the government’s advice to keep their children at home.”
Key workers who need to find care outside of usual business hours and/or at weekends should email firstname.lastname@example.org