Boris Johnson has said he is “in awe” of the way parents have risen to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic as schools remain closed to most children.
The Prime Minister wrote an open letter to parents, carers and guardians to say they have responded “magnificently”, with the Government having faced sustained criticism for its handling of education during the pandemic.
This week he said classrooms in England would remain closed to all but the vulnerable and children of key workers until March 8 at the earliest, having been closed since the Christmas break.
Wales is planning an earlier phased return to school starting after the February half-term, providing Covid-19 rates continue to fall.
In the open letter, Mr Johnson wrote: “I’m particularly in awe of the way the parents, carers and guardians of children have risen to the unique challenges with which you have been faced.
“Whether you’ve been welcoming a baby into the world without all the usual support networks, finding new ways to entertain a restive five-year-old when the soft play centre is shut and playdates are but a distant memory, or steering a teenager through the emotional stresses and strains of these unprecedented times, you have been dealt the trickiest of hands yet played it magnificently.”
He insisted the Government is “doing everything we can to support you”, with laptops being sent to schools and the extension of free school meals after pressure from critics.
“And when all this is over we’re going to be putting hundreds of millions of pounds into nationwide catch-up programmes so that nobody gets left behind,” he added.
“In the meantime, I want you to know that you are doing a great job.”
Shadow education secretary Kate Green called for greater help for families, saying the Prime Minister’s “warm words” are “no substitute for real support”.
“Four weeks into this lockdown hundreds of thousands of children remain without laptops the Government has promised,” the Labour MP said.
“Parents are stressed trying to juggle work and supporting home learning, while the Government has refused Labour’s call to give parents the right to request flexible furlough.”