Top class effort by teachers and school support staff across the city praised as hundreds also give up their Easter holidays to keep schools open
Nearly three quarters of all schools in Manchester will stay open during the upcoming Easter holidays to ensure the much-needed vital care and support schools have been providing over the last fortnight for the children of key workers is continued.
Already the response from the city’s schools and their staff in staying open during the current crisis for vulnerable children and the children of front-line workers, has been amazing and welcomed not just by parents, but by city leaders.
More than 1000 children have been attending the city’s schools each day since the government’s nationwide school closures for all but the children of key workers came into effect. Of these, around three quarters of them are children of critical workers, and the rest are children who are considered vulnerable and in need of the support and daily structure school provides.
As well as providing vital support in school for these children, schools have also been finding and creating new ways of working and supporting parents and the rest of their pupils – that’s around 89,000 4-18 year olds in Manchester alone – as families everywhere have had to start home-schooling.
Now teachers and support staff in the city’s schools are giving up their traditional two week Easter break to help keep safe those children whose parents have to go out to work, and to help keep all pupils in their school on track with their learning in these difficult times.
Around 114 schools across the city will keep their doors open during the Easter holidays for children of key workers to do their bit in supporting those parents who are doing vital work in supporting the rest of us – whether they are doctors, nurses, hospital cleaners, food delivery drivers, supermarket staff, or others.
Of these, 44 schools will remain open throughout the Easter Bank Holiday weekend to provide a guarantee of childcare for all those key workers for whom bank holidays don’t mean they can down tools and stop working.
The council has also put measures in place to make sure that all families who are usually in receipt of free school meals will continue to receive this much-needed financial support during the upcoming school holiday, so that no families in the city face the threat of holiday hunger.
It has set aside £700,000 to help pay for lunchtime meals during the Easter holidays for school age children who already get free school meals due to low family income, or whose families fall into hardship. Families of children eligible for free school meals on this basis will receive a payment of £10 per week per school-aged child.
The additional funding for free school meals for families in need during the Easter holidays is part of a multi-million pound package of financial support put in place by the council as part of its response to the current Covid crisis, to help the city and local residents through these unprecedented times.
Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children and Schools, Manchester City Council, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to teachers and school staff across the city who have all been going the extra mile this last fortnight to provide care, support and lessons for our children and young people.
“Not only have they been keeping schools open so that key workers can carry on working to keep the rest of us safe and fed, they’ve also had to completely rethink the way they deliver their lessons and learning now that pupils are forced to do lessons at home.
“To go from teaching a class of 30 pupils, to effectively now teaching 30 different classes with one pupil each in, is a massive challenge, but it’s been amazing to see just how brilliant and how quick our teachers have been at adapting to this new way of doing things.
“There can be no doubt that these are difficult times for everyone, and just as our schools and teachers are doing their bit to support their pupils, we also wanted to do ours. As fantastic as it is that our schools are still open, and that pupils and teachers are making the best of learning at home, every teacher knows if they have a hungry child in their class that child will not learn.
“This is why we’ve now stepped in to make sure families have the vital financial support they need through the Easter holidays and the coming weeks to feed their children and put food on the table. We’re determined to make sure that no children go hungry on our watch and will be doing everything we possibly can to continue to support them and their families through the difficult weeks and months ahead.”