Parents around the country took boycott action on Nov 5th, demanding protection for teachers, children and families, reports BRTUS: Parents United
Thursday 5th November saw thousands of parents and carers across the UK take part in a monumental day of action, a #ParentStrike, organised by BRTUS: Parents United.
Our campaign is centred around choice - parental choice. BRTUS’ ethos is one of supporting all parents in whatever situation they find themselves in during this pandemic; these situations might include parents sending their children to school, temporarily withdrawing them or deciding to deregister and embark on a home education journey.
We are supporting parents in their (seemingly, limited) choices, whatever they may be – unlike the Government.
Many parents have already been keeping their children at home because of concerns around school safety and as a result they’ve faced fines, criminal prosecution and the risk of losing school places.
#ParentStrike was organised because, collectively, parents are demanding an end to these Government-sanctioned bullyboy tactics.
On Monday 2nd November a petition calling for the end to absence fines was debated in Parliament and despite having an excess of 100,000 signatures, MPs concluded that such fines were still necessary during such turbulent and worrying times. As a result, we were left no other option but to strike.
Put simply, the one-day strike called for the Government to take action to reduce the R-rate, protect children, families and school staff, and reduce cases of Covid-19 in communities.
We stated that the Government must:
- Comprehensively fund and resource remote learning
- Reduce class sizes
- Be open and transparent regarding Covid-19 cases in education settings
- Revoke the threat of punitive parental fines
We believe that if these actions are not undertaken, this lockdown will be a long and damaging exercise in futility. The government must act now.
Parents reaching from Scotland to Isle of Wight took part in the day of action by withdrawing their child(ren) from school, posting photos on social media (using the #ParentStrike) and tuning into an “alternative school run” live broadcast (where they were joined by campaign supporters Laura Pidcock and Human Rights Barrister Mark McDonald).
At BRTUS: Parents United we stand shoulder to shoulder with our nation’s heroic teachers and school staff; this day of action was also a mark of solidarity with them and their struggle for workplace safety.
Our campaign continues to gather momentum and is growing rapidly - now 15,000 members strong, and supported by the likes of Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Ian Mearns MP, Grahame Morris MP and John Rees, we will not stand by as parents are bullied and threatened.
When asked why they took part in #ParentStrike on 5th November, parents made these comments:
“Because I will decide what’s best for my children, not the government, the leader of which is a professional liar.”
“We need choice at this time. Clinically vulnerable parents need to be able to choose to keep their children home to protect themselves. Parents of clinically vulnerable children need to be able to choose whether they want the keep their children home to protect them. Every parent needs to be able to choose whether they find the risk of Covid being spread in schools (with no social distancing and no masks in classrooms) acceptable. The government needs to give us back the choice.”
“I am angry that whilst politicians demand the luxury of remote voting and still use their privilege to operate in Zoom meetings; we are being expected to send our children in to unsafe schools, regardless of the risk to our health.”
“I also think parents should have a choice if they send their kids to school or not given the circumstances at the moment. One of my children has had to isolate twice since September…which then causes stress and worry to everyone in the house. They say that kids are better at school for their mental health, well that's not true as my kids are worried sick that they’re going to catch the virus and bring it home. Plus they can't social distance at school when there are 30 children in one class. It’s just wrong that our rights as parents are taken away from us when all we are doing is trying to protect them.”
“Children, their families and schools have all been let down by the Government who are coercing parents and carers to send children into crowded classrooms, regardless of any families' concerns over their child's health, safety and wellbeing. These heartless powers-that-be should be giving families the option to choose whether they send their children into school at this time, instead of giving them fines or prison sentences! If we de-register our children, they are not guaranteed the chance to return to the brilliant schools that they love under normal circumstances. The anxiety I suffer from every day I send my daughter in is seriously taking its toll on my mental health.”
Katie, West Sussex
“We strike for all those who could not.”