SCHOOLS: The First Minister’s comments were just patronising, especially to working parents

Parents’ anger at Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘patronising’ claims over schools’ return

By Jane Bradley in The Scotsman

Parents have hit out at the claims, saying most would be relieved to return to just one job – or home responsibilities – rather than home schooling on top of their normal workload and would not use the opportunity to socialise.

One said: “If I didn’t go to the park with my son, he would never see another child his age, which is not good for his mental health, especially after all this time in lockdown.

“As it is, when we’re there, other parents I know are around and I am coming into contact with far more families than if my son was at school and I could just drop him off, then go home and work. The First Minister’s comments were just patronising, especially to working parents.”

Margaret Wilson, chair of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 education recovery group, said: “[The First Minister] didn’t really put it in quite the right way.

“It isn’t just standing around the school gates, but there are risks if parents are going back to work, then that means that their child may go to a childminder after school and that all adds up.”

Jo Bisset, organiser for parents campaign group UsForThem Scotland, said: “Most parents will have work to be getting on with or a range of domestic tasks, which have been sidelined over the past two months while schools have been shut.

“In addition, it’s completely ridiculous to keep schools closed on the basis of how adults may or may not behave. We know that schools were safe all along, but still children’s education and social development have been compromised, in many cases beyond repair.”

However, she said she could not yet give a return date for other pupils, who have been out of school since December.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The evidence suggests that the key risk in re-opening schools isn’t transmission of the virus within schools – instead, the risk comes from the increased contact the re-opening sparks amongst the wider adult population.

“The risk is that schools going back might lead to parents socialising more, at the school gates for example, or returning to the workplace rather than working from home.”

“It is imperative for everyone that parents/carers continue to stick to the rules and that employers support this, so that other age groups can get back to school as soon as it is safe to do so. In other words, the parents of children who will return on February 22 are carrying the flag for all other parents and this is a serious responsibility.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Our top priority in the phased return to schools is the safety and well-being of our children, young people and school staff. As the First Minister said, parents socialising more or returning to the workplace rather than working from home could risk our progress on suppressing the virus and delay a full return to schools.”

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