Children's Commissioner calls for all years to return to school

Jersey's Children's Commissioner has called for the government to let all year groups return to school.

Deborah McMillan says education is a human right which all children are entitled to.

She points to the new Nightingale Hospital, which was built in a matter of weeks, and asks why the same cannot be done for education.

If it's just about logistics - because the health advice is that it's safe for them to go back - then why haven't we got temporary classrooms in our playgrounds? I'm sure that could happen quite quickly. We must continue to fight to get all children back to school.

Deborah McMillan, Jersey's Children's Commissioner
Deborah McMillan says education is a human right which all children are entitled to. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Schools in Jersey have been closed since 23 March, to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Children of essential workers have been allowed in for lessons and supervision.

Last week, year six returned to States-run primary schools, and years 10 and 12 returned to secondary schools. Some private schools are bringing more year groups back in, on a staggered basis.

All other students continue to follow the curriculum online from home, with remote support from their teachers.

Ms McMillan is also concerned about how beneficial remote learning is for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A lot of children are disadvantaged learning at home. It just isn't working for them. It's not just about having access to a laptop but it's about living in overcrowded situations, living with parents who can't help with homework because their literacy levels are poor themselves. Some private schools have built marquees and have come up with other solutions. I don't see why we haven't been able to do that for our States-run schools.

Deborah McMillan, Jersey's Children's Commissioner

In a statement, the Government of Jersey said: "The Education Minister’s approach remains to re-open schools through a phased approach, following the latest medical advice from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC). There have been, and continue to be, detailed and constructive discussions between school leaders, trades unions and officials. It is hoped that an announcement can be made soon to provide as much notice as possible to parents and students.”