Southend headteacher slams ministers over COVID pressure on reception and nursery classes

A Southend headteacher says staff are “on their knees” after the impact of COVID-19 on schools – and has urgently called for time off.

Lisa Clark, of Hamstel Infant School and Nursery, said she wanted the Government to understand the effects of the pandemic on the classroom.

Speaking at Southend’s Education Board meeting on Tuesday, December 15, she said she had only had eight days away from work since March.

She said: “We are on our knees and we can’t take any more.

“Nursery, reception and year one were demanded back first and we have been running all the way through.

“I can’t take much more and I’m sure that I am speaking for others.

“Ideally, we needed to have finished on December 11 and come back on January 11. We are working very hard and really need some time off. Going from December 21 and then be expected back by January 4 is just too much and government ministers really don’t understand.”

Ms Clark, from the school in Hamstel Road, told the meeting they had been fortunate and not had any incidents at all.

But she added: ”It’s been really hard work. I’ve had only eight days away from work since March and I’m exhausted. I now have to do the track and trace as I can’t have my office staff doing that. I will therefore, be on call when I finish on Thursday through to the 21st.”

The headteacher said the school is still trying to play its part for the community and yesterday five classes had been out carol singing for old people’s homes.

“We’re still trying to do our bit while they (government officials) are in their lounges waving at kids. We are doing everything we can and we need a bit of a let-up.”

When approached for comment after the meeting, she said: “It’s great that all schools in Southend have been working together to make the best of the situation for the all the children that attend the school.”

Angela Sharda

Local Democracy Reporter