On the 31 December 2020, the Government announced that Hackney primary schools were excluded from the list of boroughs whose school terms were due to be delayed on public health grounds.

This decision did not reflect the advice for London from public health experts. I joined colleagues to call on the Secretary of State for Educaton to urgently reconsider this decision. See the full text of the letter below. 

The Government has since announced a delayred return for all primary schools in London, including Hackney. For further details see here.  


Dear Secretary of State,

We write to you following the announcement yesterday that many London boroughs will see a delayed return for primary school pupils in January – in addition to the blanket arrangements in place for a staggered return for all secondary schools. We represent London boroughs that were excluded from these plans. We want to understand the basis upon which this decision was made and the consistency of these decisions compared with the other London boroughs where additional measures for primary schools will apply.

All of us passionately believe that keeping pupils educated must be a national priority and we are mindful of all the evidence that shows that schools are best place for children to be. We also understand, however, that public health advice for London called for a delayed start to the term in order to bring the dangerously high infection rates in our city under control.

Given the pressures facing our local hospitals, the prevalence of the virus and the infection rates in our communities, we do not understand why our boroughs were not included in plans to delay the start of term for primary school pupils. We are already inundated with correspondence from concerned parents, staff and school leaders who are understandably concerned about the risks involved. We are also concerned that adopting a different approach for neighbouring boroughs risks diluting the public health message for Londoners and adding to confusion. It also fails to recognise that many school journeys in London take place across borough boundaries.

We have seen throughout this pandemic that half measures and dither and delay from Government end up causing bigger problems down the line. That is our concern now. We urge you to look again at the decisions concerning our boroughs and to reconsider. We want to see children back in school as a national priority. This won’t happen unless the virus is under control and parents and staff have confidence in the Government’s plan.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP
Janet Daby MP
Florence Eshalomi MP
Vicky Foxcroft MP
Helen Hayes MP
Meg Hillier MP
Rt Hon David Lammy MP
Abena Oppong-Asare MP
Matthew Pennycook MP
Ellie Reeves MP
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP
Catherine West MP