Sir Keir Starmer visits school in Dagenham
Jon King & PA
- Credit: PA
Sir Keir Starmer has paid tribute to school staff while visiting a secondary in Dagenham.
The leader of the Labour Party was at Sydney Russell School in Parsloes Avenue on Monday, March 8 when primaries and secondaries across England reopened to all pupils.
He said: "I want to pay tribute to the staff at Sydney Russell School and all teachers for their hard work to get kids back in school today.
"The way the school has adapted, and the amount of work that has gone into setting up testing and health and safety precautions is incredibly impressive."
Sir Keir was joined by shadow education secretary Kate Green on the visit during which the party called for catch-up breakfast clubs to help children recover from lost learning.
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Labour believes the clubs will help make up for lost time, allowing children extra time to socialise, while giving schools additional periods to provide targeted tuition or catch-up support.
The push comes as the party kick-starts its Bright Future Taskforce which aims to deliver a long-term plan for children's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
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A Labour analysis of government data indicates children have each lost an average of 109 face-to-face school days since March last year.
Sir Keir said: "Labour wants to see our children's recovery at the heart of efforts to rebuild our country so we can make Britain the best place to grow up in."
The initiative comes as education secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed his department was considering resorting to five-term school years, which would mean cutting short the summer holiday and introducing longer school days to help pupils claw back lost learning time.
Mr Williamson said: "I do not underestimate how challenging the last few months have been with some children in class and most at home, but I do know how important it is for all children to be back in school, not only for their education but for their mental health and wellbeing."
The government has pledged £700m towards expanding one-to-one and small group tutoring programmes to help youngsters catch up.
It is providing a one-off recovery premium payment to schools to support disadvantaged students.