Written evidence submitted by Mr Gary Moment
Impact of Covid-19 on my daughter’s education
I am a parent of a Year 1 pupil at a local academy. This academy is the Little Gonerby Church of England Infants School in Grantham.
Before lockdown and the issues which it has lead to I must explain that I had had cause to complaint to the school after my daughter suffered a serious assault in the classroom on 21 January 2020 whilst 3 members of staff were present. The assault was perpetrated by another pupil when that same assailant had beaten up another girl in the class in the 2 weeks prior to this incident.
I have to mention this as it is relevant to the issue taking place during lockdown.
After the above taking place my daughter lost a tooth had various bruising over her face and legs, and we went through a formal complaints process with the school.
This lead to a hearing where some 16 recommendations were made, 15 of which were ratified by the local governing body but none of them were implemented prior to lockdown.
This school then closed before Easter on 19 March along with most in the country.
The school had operated an email platform called parentmail with distributions being sent to class parents en masse.
The school started putting remote learning resources on its website on 20 April 2020 and alerted parents to this. We were included in this notification alongside all other parents of children at the school.
With effect from 27 April 2020 the school rolled out the google classroom platform for each class for each year group. An email was sent on 27 April on the parentmail platform to the Amber Class distribution (my daughter in is that class). However we were not include in that distribution.
The online resources on the website specifically reminded parents and carers to “keep checking google classroom for more activities etc.”
We had not been aware of this and only noticed this on 11 May 2020 some two weeks after every other child in the class had been given access to this platform.
On finding this out we made enquiries and found that this platform allows interaction with the staff and other pupils and friends at designated times, it has the capacity to upload work and get feedback, it has the capacity for interactive learning games and much more which had been denied us by the school.
We were chocked to find all of this out and we were sent, by other parents the copy of the email they had received and we had not which clearly had our daughter’s class on the distribution list. We as parents had received all class related emails prior to that point.
The school had consciously and deliberately taken us off that distribution list.
We raised this with the school on 11 May and got no response.
On 13 May I informed the head teacher of our issue and got no response other than a holding response on 14 May. I still have hear no reply to this as of today’s date.
On 15 May the Deputy Head replies saying we have been excluded from the platform because we had complained previously and therefore the platform could have been used by use to post negative comments!
I am sorry but my daughter getting assaulted in class merited the complaint which happened and the fact that the hearing made so many recommendations gave that complaint serious merit in itself. For the Deputy head to say that we were being excluded because of that is simply ludicrous!
We were then blocked on twitter by every single member of staff from their official school class pages. Both of us as parents. Now I personally had left such matters to my partner and had never even considered following the classes but on being told by my partner shat she had been blocked I attempted to follow my daughter’s class only to find I too had been blocked.
The explanation – again – because we had complained then we could send negative comments on twitter. Again libellous and I am considering what action I may take.
The twitter access was resumed but the google classroom access was not provided until finally on 25 May (the Monday of the half term break and a bank holiday!).
However the school then writes to me and states that because of the complaints made we can only communicate with one person – the deputy head.
So now we cannot use the platform as that would be having direct contact with the class teacher which is prohibited by the letter from the deputy head.
The school has taken every option available to it including sending me a threatening solicitors letter, to block my daughter’s equal access to remote learning resources and then when questioned it fails to respond as it hides behind the current guidance saying all complaints cannot be started or continued until the schools fully re-open.
My daughter has now lost out on a full half-term of interaction which all of her peers have had and this continues every day.
I have literally a hundred emails back and forth with all parties, governors, members, staff etc. and the Diocesan board of education but no-one has done anything.
This goes to prove in my opinion the academy structure does not work as there is no authority to rain down on them when something like this happens.
I would note for the record some of the prior complaints were directed at the chair and clerk to the governing body, both of whom have obviously got a conflict in dealing with me and despite the articles of association stating they should recuse themselves they have been actively involved in creating the wall.
The actions of the Department of Education in blocking complaints from progressing is effectively giving this school a shield behind which they can stay silent.
The mere fact that this very guidance also says school should still commune with parents is being conveniently ignored.
All external agencies – the ESFA, the TRA, Ofsted, the RSC, none of them are functioning at this time and none of them can bring any pressure on this school. That removal of any ‘stick’ gives this academy free reign which cannot be right.