AS we continue to plan for our emergence from the Coronavirus pandemic, the issue of schools and education have been high on the list of priorities for many parents across the country.

From next month the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme (furlough) will permit employers to allow part time working and with the gradual easing of lockdown measures we will hopefully see a resurgence of economic activity. But a return to work comes with it the very real childcare concerns faced by many thousands of families across Glasgow.

Last week the Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, John Swinney MSP, said that schools are unlikely to return to normal in the next academic year and that exams in 2021 could be postponed.

This follows reports that councils across the country are preparing ‘blended’ learning proposals by which pupils’ attendance at school will be staggered in a way that ensures social distancing can take place.

In Glasgow I am aware of such discussions taking place and in recent reports from other council areas we’ve learned that some local authorities in Scotland are considering school pupils returning to the classrooms for as little as one day per week when the summer holidays conclude.

It is difficult to see how this approach can be reconciled with the realities of working life for most parents.

Such scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s education proposals at First Minister’s Questions last week however prompted Nicola Sturgeon to again accuse opposition politicians of playing party politics.

This is after she called Ruth Davidson “disgraceful” for daring to suggest that political pressure may have been put on a Scottish Government adviser who went against the party line on this issue. It’s unfortunately all too familiar for the First Minister to hide behind her usual tired excuses at a time when parents across the country have genuine concerns over how they will manage work and childcare.

Far from being a party political attack, the opposition is right to raise the stark consequences that extended periods of absence from school have on some of the most vulnerable children in our society.

UCL’s Institute of Education research suggests that around two million kids in the UK have done almost no schoolwork at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

This comes at a time when the Scottish Government have been boasting about recent figures that show a narrowing of the educational attainment gap because children from affluent backgrounds are doing worse, not because pupils from deprived backgrounds are doing any better. That the SNP spin machine is crowing about a decline in standards in our schools is astonishing, even for a government that has presided over the Scottish education system plummeting down the few international league tables they haven’t pulled us out from.

Here in Glasgow, we’ve not had a meeting of the Council’s Education Committee since March. It is the role of councillors to represent our constituents on this matter but because of the council’s antiquated approach to IT we have been unable to do so.

With the next committee meeting scheduled for August, I’ll be pushing the administration to convene earlier to allow elected members to scrutinise proposals for our schools returning after the summer holidays.

Nicola Sturgeon might think being held to account is a ‘disgrace’, but I think it’s a vital part of the democratic process and our kids deserve nothing less than a comprehensive and properly scrutinised plan of action for their safe return to the classroom. That’s what my group will aim to deliver.