BRIDGET PHILLIPSON: Tories have no proper plan to fix the problems in schools
I'm delighted to be writing in my new role as Shadow Education Secretary in Keir Starmer's Shadow Cabinet.
Education is the single most important way in which we change lives for the better. I know that from my own life and I want that change to be available for every child in every family. I had a wonderful education at my local schools in Washington - and every child deserves that.
This Christmas, children are in their third school year of disruption to their education. And still, the Conservatives don't have a proper plan to fix the problems we are seeing in schools as a result of the pandemic, even as the Omicron variant arrives.
We need a proper recovery plan, proper ventilation, and vaccinations for all eligible children. We’ve known that for months.
Ventilation in schools should have been sorted when the sun was shining. But the Government has done little more than tell teachers to keep the windows open, even in winter, even in Sunderland. Children are having to sit wearing coats to learn in class, whilst infection rates in schools aren't getting any lower.
And we aren't seeing enough vaccinations among children in the 12-15 age group either. More than three months have passed since the jab was approved for 12-15 year olds, but latest figures, published on Tuesday, show hundreds and thousands of children have been out of school this term because of Covid-19.
I've called on the Government to give a Christmas vaccine guarantee to the hundreds of thousands of eligible children in England who still have not been able to receive even their first jab.
Last week's Ofsted report made it clear that children have needed the government's support and protection throughout the pandemic, but too often they have been let down.
The government still isn't thinking enough about the bigger picture of our children's future. In the summer, the Prime Minister threw out his own educational recovery chief's proposals.
But while this bumbling government can't get a plan in place, Labour is ready. We have set out an ambitious Children's Recovery Plan that put children's wellbeing first, promoting their social development alongside their learning. Right now, looking ahead to next term, we want the government taking action to make sure children are in schools and learning together, so every child can succeed and thrive.
Every time I meet children in our area and across the country I am reminded how ambitious they are about the future. I'll work every day to secure the next Labour government and match that ambition, so all our children can succeed and thrive.