Amber Rudd, who served as home secretary until 2018 and later the minister for work and pensions insisted teachers ‘have to go back’ to school.
Rudd discussed the big argument between current ministers, former education secretaries and teaching unions about when schools restart during The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.
She said: ‘Everybody is looking for certainty; certainty about when they can feel safe; certainty about how infectious children may or may not be to adults; what underlying risks are going to take place at schools, all these things that just aren’t available.
‘We’ve got this situation where the teaching unions are saying, ‘we are not prepared to allow teachers to go back to school, yet although we want them to go back, we need to be safe’.
‘But they have to go back because we need to make sure that our children go back and that all the issues to do not just with education, but also with security, safety, mental health issues, safeguarding, those children need to go back to school.
‘Teachers are being asked to reopen the schools and I hope they will do that.’
She said it does feel like a political argument and an attack on the government from the teaching unions.
Rudd also said teachers need to ‘somehow’ get reassurance that it is safe to return to school: ‘Teachers I have spoken to said they want to go back to school, but they are cautious about making that commitment, unless they can somehow get a commitment that the schools are safe.’
She acknowledged that there is a lot of uncertainty around the coronavirus, while simultaneously bringing into discussion the Daily Mail article which featured previous education secretaries calling for teachers to be sent to school.
‘There’s too much that is unknown about this virus, but I do think it’s interesting that several former education secretaries, and I am looking particularly at the article in the Mail on Sunday, have resoundingly come out supporting the government in sending teachers back to school,’ Rudd said.