I have been working with my Committee colleagues to hold the Government to account and to ensure that, particularly in the case of the Education Select Committee, providers are supported as schools continue opening up more fully. Locally, I have been in close contact with our headteachers and I will continue to feedback their concerns and experiences to my colleagues as we approach the beginning of the next academic year.
I recently questioned Secretary of State for Education, the Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson MP, in the Chamber on the subject of protecting against any risk to children in September:
Recognising, as my right hon. Friend says, the evidence shows that the risks to and connected with children are very low, mums and dads around the country will have noticed the very stringent protective measures that are being put in place in education and childcare settings, supported by his Department and implemented by multi-academy trusts and local authorities. Could my right hon. Friend enlarge a little on his comments in his opening statement about further measures that he might have in mind to ensure that those risks are effectively managed when children return to their educational settings in September?
Absolutely, I certainly can do. We have created a strict set of controls that we expect schools to follow as an absolute minimum, as children return. We have worked closely with Public Health England on those measures, which include making sure that schools have good hygiene and good cleaning, and reduce the amount of contact between pupils. The creation of bubbles has worked successfully and, as a result, as I have touched on, we have seen over 1.6 million children benefit from returning to school from 1 June. But we do accept that more needs to be done with every child coming back, and that is why we have produced such detailed guidance and will continue to support schools to bring every child back in a safe way—not just safe for the children, but safe for those who work in schools.