Written evidence submitted by London Councils

A response from London Councils

 

 

 

 

London Councils represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities to make the case for powers, freedoms and resources to best serve the needs of London’s residents and businesses.

 

 

 

 

1.    The implementation of the critical workers policy, including how consistently the definition of ‘critical’ work is being applied across the country and how schools are supported to remain open for children of critical workers

2.    The capacity of children’s services to support vulnerable children and young people

 

 

3.    The effect of provider closure on the early years sector, including reference to: Children’s early development; the early years funded entitlement and the childcare market

 

 

 

 

4.    The effect of cancelling formal exams, including the fairness of qualifications awarded and pupils’ progression to the next stage of education or employments or training

 

 

 

5.    Support for pupils and families during closures, including:

 

The London boroughs have been supporting their schools to communicate consistently and regularly with parents and pupils with home learning resources. Many local authorities in London have provided digital equipment to disadvantaged learners to ensure that they can make full use of their school’s home learning resources. However, we have significant concerns about the impact that this digital divide will have on disadvantaged pupils in the long-term.

 

 

The London boroughs are working with schools to support their pupils as much as possible to alleviate anxiety and other mental health issues induced by the social isolation imposed by lockdown. Boroughs are commissioning and signposting to digital mental health services, such as Kooth and Shout and ThinkNinja which children and young people can access at home, and schools are disseminating wellbeing advice and information in communications to parents.

 

However, for some children they will need additional support, for example through bereavement or trauma-informed therapies, once lockdown has ended. Local authorities are sharing approaches and working with schools to establish these services where appropriate and are offering webinars and additional training to school staff to support them in working with children and colleagues who have been bereaved. It will also be important for the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS to prioritise investment in CAMHS services so that adequate support is in place to support children and young people who develop more complex mental health needs.

 

6.    The effect on apprenticeships and other workplace-based education courses 

 

 

 

 

 

7.    The financial implications of closures for providers (including higher education and independent training providers), pupils and families

 

 

 

 

8.    The effect on disadvantaged groups, including the Department’s approach to free school meals and the long-term impact on the most vulnerable groups (such as pupils with special educational needs and disabilities and children in need)

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.    What contingency planning can be done to ensure the resilience of the sector in case of any future national emergency

 

Children’s Services across London are undergoing a process of learning from the recent changes in practice during the Covid-19 pandemic to identify any key changes that have improved practice as well as understand what needs to be in place to improve resilience in the case of any future national emergency. This includes, for example, an increase in flexible working; and online contacts and meetings to reduce physical contact but maintain regular communications. This is still a live and emerging area.

 

May 2020

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