Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited two schools in Upminster to see the steps they’ve taken to welcome back pupils safely in September.
I joined the PM on his visit and we met head teacher, Mrs Matthews of St Joseph's Primary to discuss the social distancing and safety measures in place at the school. We then headed over to Sacred Heart Girls' School on St Mary's Lane where we met incoming Head Teacher, Vivienne Qurrey, and saw the fantastic Premier Education summer camp that is based on-site. The PM took part in an archery lesson and chatted to local children about the summer scheme.
Mrs Qurrey takes over from long-standing head, Kim O'Neill, in September after a deputy headship in Newham. Mrs O'Neill has given twenty-one years of fantastic service to Sacred Heart and the whole community wishes her well in retirement. I hope to visit Sacred Heart again in the autumn for a proper catch-up with Mrs Qurrey.
The Prime Minister later tweeted, 'It’s vital that we get children back to school, restore some normality to their lives and ensure they don’t miss out on their education because of coronavirus.'
It was brilliant to showcase to the PM the hard work of the local school community in preparing for the full return of children after such a difficult year. The government is determined to reopen all schools next month and it was reassuring to see the efforts of teachers over the summer to make that happen. The importance of school to a child's education, mental wellbeing and physical health goes without saying, and I am glad to see the PM's personal commitment to getting everyone back in the classroom. On top of the recent funding uplifts for our schools by the Education Secretary and investment in buildings and facilities via Condition Improvement Funding, I hope and trust that parents, teachers and children will welcome the commitment to reopening schools for students of all ages.