Margaret Greenwood MP has said in Parliament that children’s happiness and wellbeing should be at the forefront of all decision making about the education that they receive.
The Wirral West MP was speaking in a debate, secured by Labour, on children’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the cost of childcare.
She said that many children have lost loved ones during the pandemic and that they have had to deal with restrictions to their lives and to their opportunities to develop social skills.
A recent survey by Parentkind – a national charity which aims to give those with a parenting role a voice in education – found that mental health and wellbeing is now a major priority for nearly nine in 10 parents.
Margaret Greenwood referenced this, and she also highlighted research published by the Education Endowment Foundation which found that, for many children, the experience of lockdown was made harder by cramped living conditions, no access to green spaces, parental mental health difficulties and financial hardship.
The MP, a former Shadow Schools Minister, also used the debate to call on the government to scrap SATs tests and she also said that there needs to be a proper look at the curriculum to ensure that all children have the opportunity to develop their creativity and are given the opportunity to study and engage in subjects such as art, music, drama and dance.
A one-time secondary school teacher herself, Margaret Greenwood also spoke out in support of teachers and pointed to a recent poll from the National Education Union which found that over half of teachers say that their workload is either “unmanageable” or “unmanageable most of the time”.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “Children have suffered throughout the pandemic in so many ways.
“Tragically, many have lost loved ones, and most children have been through stress, tension and uncertainty, just like the adult population.
“It is important that children’s happiness and wellbeing are at the forefront of decision making about the education that they receive.
“A child is far more likely to do well if they are enjoying their learning.
“If we are to look after our children, we need to look after their teachers too. Many are reporting that they have unmanageable workloads and this is a huge concern for their own wellbeing, the quality of the education that children receive and the future of the profession.
“The government have a responsibility for the wellbeing of every child.
“Ministers should take a careful look at just how much they are testing children and the way in which they are testing them.
“There are numerous reports of parents worrying that tests in school are creating stress for children and doing more harm than good. There are all sorts of ways of assessing the quality of education that children are receiving besides SATs.
“There is a need too for a review of the curriculum so that parents and children can be confident that pupils will be given the opportunity to flourish in a broad range of subject areas and that the arts aren’t squeezed out of education.”