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Local Tories welcome SNP "u-turn" on schools return

By Jonathan Clark

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Douglas Ross, left, and Tim Eagle, right. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Douglas Ross, left, and Tim Eagle, right. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

LOCAL conservatives have welcomed a "u-turn" from the Scottish Government on children returning to schools.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney this afternoon told Holyrood that children will return to school full-time from August 11 if current progress in suppressing coronavirus is kept up.

Mr Swinney said the change of aim was "born out of the hard work and sacrifice of people in every part of the country".

The move has been welcomed by Moray's SNP MSP Richard Lochhead, and now Moray's conservative MP Douglas Ross has said it is "a welcome u-turn".

Mr Ross said: “This is a welcome u-turn from the SNP Government and I am pleased for pupils and the large number of parents in Moray who contacted me with concerns about the blended learning and limited classroom time that was SNP policy only a few days ago.

"Despite the attempts by Mr Swinney to suggest otherwise, local authorities were working up until today on introducing blended learning models in Scotland’s schools with limited classroom time.

“However, it seems that the voices of parents, charities and politicians have forced this sudden change in policy, and I am pleased that all children in Moray will be back at school full-time in August.

"While there is a caveat that the virus has to continue to be supressed for these plans to be enacted, we have seen positive signs with this, and I am hopeful that children can return to school and get back to learning in the classroom from early August.

"Our local teachers and nursery staff have worked hard during these unprecedented times and I want to thank them all for their efforts. This hard work will continue from now until the start of the school term so schools can reopen in a safe way for both pupils and staff.”

Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie, conservative) added: “I cannot ignore the largest volume of e-mails and messages I have ever had as a councillor on a particular subject. Parents were concerned, experts were concerned.

"With this in mind it is a welcome announcement from the SNP that they recognise the importance of education and their assumption, should things continue to improve, is that schools will return full-time from August. If only they could have recognised this sooner.”

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston.

Jamie Halcro Johnston, Highlands and Islands MP, called the move a "screeching u-turn" and accused John Swinney of an "appalling lack of leadership".

He said: "This screeching u-turn by John Swinney – after weeks of pressure from the Scottish Conservatives, parents and teachers – will bring some encouragement for those frustrated by the muddle and mixed messages from Nicola Sturgeon and her education secretary.

“SNP ministers, particularly Mr Swinney, have displayed an appalling lack of leadership on this issue, leaving local authorities not knowing what scenario they were supposed to be preparing for.

“There are now seven weeks to go before the schools re-open and it is imperative that John Swinney ensures that councils have the resources they need to ensure a smooth and safe return for pupils."

School return welcomed by SNP.

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