Children across the county are excited to return to school and a bit of normality. Throughout the pandemic school closures have seen our children losing out on valuable learning and socialising opportunities. Teachers valiantly conducted classes virtually, but I am sure they will agree, nothing compares to face-to-face teaching.
Pupils stayed at home to help us all get on top of the virus and now we must help them to catch up on what they have lost. Kent County Council needs to be proactive on this issue by looking for ways to assist our schools re-engage with young people in a fun and productive way.
I believe KCC needs to invest in an early years’ programme for 5- to 11-year-olds. A play service that can reenergise children, giving them the socialisation opportunities that they have unfortunately been lacking. For them there have been too many days spent isolating at home, away from their friends during our children’s most formative years. Focus must be placed on helping them catch up.
We need schools to be at the heart of our communities and KCC to offer a range of activities concentrating on education, social group, and leisure communities. Disappointingly, all of our primary schools received a real-term cut in funding last year, some losing up to £450 per pupil. There is no question that our schools should be properly funded, therefore, we must tackle the funding issues created by our current county council.
Our children deserve the best start, and without a comprehensive plan to limit the fallout from the pandemic I fear that our young people will become another statistic of how the pandemic has negatively impacted our society. We must act today.