Politics

Parents are at their ‘wits’ end’ amid school closures, Tory MP warns Government


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arents are at their “wits’ end”, a Tory MP warned the Government today, as serious concerns were raised about children’s mental health while schools are closed.  

Conservative MP Siobhan Baillie told the Commons she had been contacted by parents who were “desperately worried” about the mental health of their children.  

It comes after the Evening Standard launched a campaign to address the rising mental health crisis among young people in the wake of the pandemic — and called on the Government to act.  

Ms Baillie said: “We need to hear about my Stroud dad who contacted me because he is so desperately worried about the metal health of his children being at home all day. 

“The parents that are contacting me on Instagram – Instagram is for pictures of cats – and they are absolutely at their wits’ end about juggling childcare and work as well.”

She asked for reassurances that the reopening of schools was being treated as a “national emergency”.

Schools minister Nick Gibb replied: “We do take the mental health of pupils and parents and indeed school staff very seriously in all the decisions that we are taking.”  

Robert Halfon, chairman of the education select committee, raised high levels of anxiety, depression and self-harm among children due to school closures, adding: “Parents are showing signs of psychological stress and breakdown as a result of the pressures of trying to home school their children, sustain their jobs and businesses. We just need to get our schools open again sooner rather than later.” 

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Labour former schools minister Dame Diana Johnson added: “Families in Hull North are struggling and as a nation we’re storing up a timebomb of mental health issues for a generation.”

Kensington Tory MP Felicity Buchan said the “majority of parents” in her area would like to see their children return to school after the half-term break, adding: “Can he assure me everything is being done to get children back into school and that we have not ruled out a return after the mid-term break?”

Mr Gibb said “no-one is keener” than him to see “all schools back and open to all children and young people”. 

The debate took place after shadow education secretary Kate Green asked for the Government’s plan for reopening schools. 



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