I would like to pay tribute to parents, pupils, teachers and heads as it is incredibly difficult for all concerned during this latest lockdown. In my latest survey, I've been asking West Sussex parents about their experience of home schooling. Two thirds tell me that their children are receiving less than one hour of live teaching time per day whilst more than 80% say that their child is currently receiving less than 10 minutes of one-to-one interaction with a teacher per week. Local teachers share their concern with me about how much education their pupils are missing and we have seen striking warnings by the Children’s Commissioner and the Chief Medical Officer that closed schools are associated with effects on inequality, life chances and implications for mental health. The independent ONS has published analysis that there is no evidence of differences in the COVID rate between teachers and other professions. I know parents will be relieved that there is broad consensus that schools, colleges and universities must be first to re-open their doors and that the daily news on vaccination of the most vulnerable groups brings that moment closer.
In the meantime, I am glad the Government has been providing free laptops and tablets to children in situations of real hardship to support remote learning including here in some pockets of West Sussex.
Fortunately, the latest vaccine news gives us reason to be optimistic, as over 9.6 million people have received the vaccine across the UK, putting us well on track to meet the Government’s first-stage target of 15 million jabs for the most clinically-vulnerable by mid-February. Last Saturday over 600,000 people were vaccinated – that’s almost 1% of the population in a single day - showing the national rollout gaining real momentum.
Locally, as of the time of going to press, Sussex has reached the twin milestones of vaccinating 85% of all of its over 80’s and every care home bar the small number with recent outbreaks where the visit was deferred on medical grounds. This corresponds with the picture from my own ‘No One Misses Out’ register where, other than the housebound, almost every constituent that I was helping has now received their appointment. I congratulate all concerned for this tremendous achievement which has involved round the clock work, seven days a week and a huge number of GP’s, practice staff, volunteers and the local NHS administrators.
As the programme now rolls on to those in the over 70’s and even younger, I will continue to publish the latest guidance and local information on my website and via my emailed newsletter at www.andrewgriffithmp.com