We are all asking obvious questions: How has it come to this?

Why is it that education staff have so little confidence in government advice?

Why is it that so many decisions have been made in the eleventh hour? This latest one even later.

Christmas was unbelievably rough on school leaders, who were supposed to be recovering after working through every holiday since Easter. It was tough on all staff, who were troubled over the loss of one of our support staff members due to Covid, soaring transmission rates in schools and the undeniable evidence from all angles.

The decision to open primary schools on Monday was the latest example of chaos and contradiction in education.

Government has given us

* Glorious summer catch-up plans, rapidly abandoned as unworkable;

* Chaos in secondary-school examinations, swiftly followed by U-turns, when shown to be unworkable.

* Numerous lengthy eleventh-hour guidance documents riddled with contradictions, shown too often to be unworkable.

* ‘Bubbles’, year groups and even whole schools closing with hundreds of island pupils working at home in the Autumn term.

* As infections soared, what did the DfE do? They threatened legal action, if schools tried to reduce the risk.

To be an effective political leader, in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous pandemic situation, politicians need to develop the ability to build collaborative relationships.

A minority of national leaders, sadly who have power, and their supporters have been unwilling to break ranks, reacted far too slowly to the overwhelming science. Instead of forward planning prevention and keeping ahead of the virus, it has been used as a political football with everyone suffering.

Sadly, controlled by Government, even the DfE has been a major hindrance. They need to support, understand and collaborate better, as do local and national political leaders. They need to genuinely consider the needs of pupils. As schools look forward to this term, they are planning how to deliver and:

* Produce twice the number of lessons - for those in school and those online lessons at home – with the same staff number.

* Support disadvantaged pupils with online learning, whilst awaiting the fulfilment of Government’s long-broken promise, promised again yesterday, to provide laptops and internet access for all pupils.

* Cope, when the virus hits and a staff shortage arrives.

* Mitigate against crowded buildings, with no social distancing, poor ventilation and no PPE, when schools do fully reopen.

* Do even more to ensure children are safe, have enough food and are supported in maintaining their mental health.

The scale of how do schools continue to exercise a full duty of care in the face of this previous chaos as well mounting costs, should not be underestimated.

We know, schools will succeed, but they are so often at the mercy of politicians – both national and local.

So, in the hope of positive change, we remind them: those who cannot remember the recent past are condemned to repeat it.

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