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Published: Friday, 1st January 2021

Statement from Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, on New Year school closures and pupil testing

Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Councillor Danny Thorpe said:

“I’m absolutely delighted to confirm that I’ve just heard that Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson has finally climbed down and reversed his decision and that Royal Greenwich primary schools will not be open next week. 

It will be huge relief tonight to parents and families across the borough that the Government has finally recognised what myself and all at the Council have been saying for weeks.

On a local level, this is a decision that vindicates the safety first approach we took at the end of the last term. Faced with an exponential growth in Covid cases, we were clear immediate action was required.

There remain huge questions to answer about how the government ever came to this decision in the first place and we will continue to push for those answers. Our schools, parents and teachers deserve to know that those making decisions about them have done so with their best interests at heart.

For the record, I have always believed that our children should be in school and want to get them back to the classroom as soon as it is safe. As a teacher myself, I believe passionately in the power of education to transform lives. I have always worked the whole family of our schools in Royal Greenwich and I will continue to do that and over the coming days and weeks.

We urgently need a clear plan from the Government about how schools will operate with the ongoing challenges of this pandemic. From the urgent need to protect all of our school staff with the vaccine to access to digital learning for all and the work we must all do to close the attainment gap. I know I stand ready with other London leaders to help address these vital issues.

We are communicating tonight with local schools about what next and they will be in touch with parents directly.

I also want to remind people with pupils due to go back into Y11 and Y13 this week that our Council team has worked evert day of this holiday to set up a testing system so our hardworking teachers and schools didn’t have to. I’m hugely proud that so far 1,800 Greenwich pupils have booked.

You can find out more here: https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/coronavirustestandtrace

A huge thanks to everyone for their support across Royal Greenwich.