Employers urged to help keep key worker kids out of schools

Scotland’s education secretary has asked employers to help keep the number of children in schools to a minimum by supporting their staff with home schooling.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

John Swinney told MSPs that while schools were open for children of key workers “who have no viable alternatives on an exceptional basis” it was vital to reduce “interactions around schools” and to “keep the numbers of key workers’ children to the absolute minimum required”.

He said: “We need employers to support employees in only taking up in-school learning where there is no alternative, only on the days they need it, and for the minimum amount of time."

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Mr Swinney added that “three key worker categories” had been sent to local authorities to support them “in keeping numbers to a minimum”.

He also announced £45m in new funding for councils to employ more staff, and £3.8m for “each four-week period" of lockdown for childcare providers.

"More childcare options exist during this lockdown," he said. “I’m aware that remaining open for very small numbers of children creates pressure for some childcare providers so I can therefore confirm we will make temporary financial support of up to £3.8m for each four-week period of restrictions to providers of day care for children who are open during these restrictions, and we're considering further support to childminders.

“I know many families are struggling and we need to ensure they get the support they need. I can also announce a further £45m of new funding to allow local authorities to deploy more support to schools and their families.”

He said the money would allow councils to “purchase additional devices” as well as recruit additional staff and provide support to parents and families to engage with home learning.

The money was in addition to the £160m “already committed to educational recovery since the start of the pandemic” he said and would be “sufficient in principle to support the recruitment of 2000 additional teaching staff up until the end of the financial year.”

Mr Swinney also said that problems with IT experienced by schools had been resolved and education inspectors would continually review how well remote learning was working, with the first review published on January 22.

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