Coronavirus: Committee of MPs to probe DfE’s response to disease

Ofsted safeguarding Spielman catch-up exams committee

The response of the Department for Education to the coronavirus outbreak and the impact of the disease on schools will be investigated by an influential committee of MPs.

The parliamentary education committee has launched an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services.

It follows criticism of the government’s support for schools during the pandemic, which heads say has been inadequate and materialised too slowly.

The committee will explore the impact on “all aspects of the education sector and children’s social care system and will scrutinise how the Department for Education is dealing with the situation”.

MPs will also look specifically at the implementation of the critical workers policy, including “how consistently the definition of ‘critical’ work is being applied across the country and how schools are supported to remain open for children of critical workers”.

The effect of cancelling formal exams, including the “fairness of qualifications awarded and pupils’ progression to the next stage of education or employment”, will also be investigated, along with the support for pupils and families during closures, particularly disadvantaged groups.

Robert Halfon, the committee’s chair, said: “The education committee recognises that the closure of schools has been a massive decision with huge implications and would like to put on record its thanks to the education secretary and ministers who are having to make tough decisions in very difficult circumstances.”

Halfon added he would “particularly also like to thank all the education professionals – the staff, the teachers, the ancillary staff – who are doing everything possible to continue to educate our children. We recognise that this is in incredibly worrying time for all”.


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  1. The DfE has hardly been a shining light when it comes to supporting schools in anything recently – the National Curriculum, anybody? However, the response to Coronavirus has been nothing short of shameful, whether you consider the muddled announcements over closure and key workers, or the painful lack of clarity over examinations. There has been little or no practical help to schools who are largely unprepared for remote learning, especially primaries. They have an ideal position prepare for closure and to coordinate, but academisation has fractured the system inEngland, and so schools have been left in the hands of very variable academy leadership. In our case, academy leadership has been pretty much non-existent with only platitudes by email the only evidence of there even being some form of highly paid executive in place. At no point have we had practical advice. Our head has spent days on the phone coordinating with other heads in the trust who are similarly frustrated. I hope the committee knows how to ask the right questions.