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Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of failing to understand his ‘moral responsibility’ to re-open schools next month

Sir Keir Starmer spoke to pupils in Darlington after they received their A-Level results this week (PA)

3 min read

Sir Keir Starmer has heaped pressure on Boris Johnson on school re-openings saying the Prime Minister has a “moral duty” to get pupils back into classrooms next month.

The Labour leader said he doesn’t just want all children back, he expects them back, adding: “No ifs, no buts, no equivocation.”

He also took aim at the Government’s handling of the year’s A-Level results fiasco, after thousands of pupils had their grades downgraded after an algorithm was used in place of the exams cancelled due to coronavirus.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Sir Keir said while the PM agreed we have a duty to reopen schools "what he does not seem to understand is that he has a moral responsibility to make sure it happens” when the new term starts next month.

"So, let me send a very clear message to the Prime Minister: I don't just want all children back at school next month, I expect them back at school," he said. 

“No ifs, no buts, no equivocation.”

"Let me be equally clear: it is the Prime Minister's responsibility to guarantee children get the education they need and the benefit of being back with their teachers and classmates.

"My offer to help the Government re-open schools still stands, but responsibility for making it happen lies squarely at the door of Number 10."

The Labour leader accused the PM of having “wasted months flailing around blaming everybody else and refusing to take any responsibility or show any leadership” on re-opening schools, he said.

"His priorities were wrong too. He set up a 'task force' for the reopening of bowling alleys, but refused my offer to do the same for schools,” Sir Keir added.

"He set a deadline for reopening the economy, but ditched his commitment to get classrooms back open before the summer.

"We cannot afford to see the same mistakes being made over and over again. 

“Children, young people and families must be a national priority with the leadership to match.”

He also called on the Government to ditch its ‘moderation’ system for calculating A-Levels and accept teacher assessments instead, saying it was “not a perfect solution” but was a fairer one.

“Thousands of young people who have worked so hard had their grades downgraded by a system that was found to be flawed and failed on its own terms” he wrote.

“Young people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – have been robbed by a system that judged them on their postcode, not their ability or effort.”

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