Coronavirus in Portsmouth: National Education Union president said call for closures was made with 'heavy heart'

A UNION leader has said she called for schools to close with a ‘heavy heart’.
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National Education Union president Amanda Martin, a Portsmouth teacher, said her union acted on scientific evidence from Sage.

Ms Martin said school closure time should be used to make sure testing could be rolled out and a plan drawn up for schools.

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Around 400,000 people watched the union’s stream calling for its members to join in the call to close schools, following a 6,000-person union rep call on Saturday.

Amanda Martin. Picture: Russell Sach PhotographyAmanda Martin. Picture: Russell Sach Photography
Amanda Martin. Picture: Russell Sach Photography
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She said: ‘We regret that it’s so last minute but this is not our fault, it’s the fault of the government for ignoring the science in December

‘We need to make sure we push the government to use this time to get testing up and running and bring down the R rate, and have a plan for education.

‘When we were getting towards the end of term and Christmas holidays we had lots and lots of pupils off self isolating in bubbles and missing education.

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‘It’s with a really heavy heart that this has happened, however it’s not our fault, it’s the fact that the government didn’t make the call on December 22.’

Portsmouth City Council Conservative opposition spokesman for education, Councillor Terry Norton, said ‘school is the best place for young people to be’.

He added: ‘Teachers refusing to return to work under union instruction adds an additional barrier for schools who are trying to prioritise testing.

‘I therefore urge teachers to act with integrity and think about the well-being and development of the young people they serve.

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‘The sooner schools fully reopen the sooner we can shake off the negative stigma of schools being unsafe places to be.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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