Friday, May 24, 2024
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Spoilsport Johnson must lift this school ban on parents


SPORTING fans come in all different shapes and sizes. There are the beer-swigging football supporters singing the chorus of Three Lions over and over again. Then there are those euphemistically called ‘UEFA VIPs’. These ‘fans’ probably swap pinstripes for soccer jerseys.  

The much less commented-upon sporting fans are the millions of parents of young children who enthusiastically attend school sports days to watch their offspring in the egg ’n’ spoon race.   

Should you find yourself in this latter category, you will no doubt have been told by your school that you are banned by government edict. We can let tens of thousands into football stadiums, but standing on the side of the school running track is out forbidden.  

This double standard is quickly undoing any remaining goodwill towards lockdown obedience. Parents will soon start standing up against this nonsense, and about time too.   

Parents wishing to attend school events and cheer on their children enthusiastically should be of less concern to government busybodies than the 100,000 pupils who have not turned up to school at all in the first term back after the pandemic.  

Where is the interest in the parents of these children, we might ask? A new report from the Centre for Social Justice think-tank (where I sit on the board) has discovered that since schools reopened their doors, the number of children missing more than half their lessons has shot up by more than 50 per cent.  

Before wags point out that many might be isolating, having walked too close to a stranger without a mask, these figures exclude Covid.  

What is the purpose of continued lockdown when the laws are so easily amended to suit football bosses, but ordinary parents are informed by a beleaguered school secretary that they are no longer welcome because of an announcement by the Prime Minister?   

Here is a trend, which has developed on the watch of Conservative governments: Children are routinely overlooked as we reach to make life easier for adults.  

This is a theme picked up by the outgoing Children’s Commissioner, who railed at the lack of interest in supporting children. We can wave through football bigwigs, but families supporting their children from the sidelines at a school sports day? No, thank you! 

We need to get a grip and stop bossing around well-meaning parents who simply want to cheer on their children in the hula hoop race and focus instead on the parents of those missing from our classrooms altogether.  

It is time that our increasingly interfering political class ceased addressing the public from their lecterns and instead came up with answers for the major social issues facing our country.  

While decisions might be made by those who turn up, it turns out that there are many children who have simply given up turning up at all. This, not banning sports day, should be the focus of ministers.  

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Cara Usher-Smith
Cara Usher-Smith
Cara is a Director at the Centre for Social Justice.

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