David Lammy is urging the Government to formally adopt the UN Children’s Rights Act to make sure pupils are never denied access to education as many were during the pandemic.
By the end of the 2020 school year, millions of children were left without the technology they needed to access school lessons remotely, the shadow justice secretary claimed.
Speaking at the Institute for Public Policy Research, he said: “The government’s disastrous handling of schools through the pandemic shows us what happens when children are treated as an afterthought.
“So many children have been denied the right to education by this government’s incompetence.
“By the end of the 2020 school year, the Government had distributed just two-hundred-and-thirteen-thousand laptops and tablets.
“This left 1.5 million children without the laptop, tablet or desktop they needed to access teaching remotely – forcing them to miss up to 75 days of education between March and July last year.”
The UK ratified the United Nation’s children’s rights act in 1991 but it has not yet been made part of domestic law.
This means that many of the protections contained within it may not be accessible to young people across the UK.
Former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield told The Mirror she would back the move as children have “sacrificed so much during the pandemic”.
She said: “Countries that incorporate the UN children’s rights convention into law make an important commitment to children that they will put their needs & rights at the forefront of their priorities.
“For children who have sacrificed so much for us all during the pandemic it would be a fitting way to ensure that their rights are protected in law.
“But this is just part of the change needed for our children and their families especially those disadvantaged children who so often struggle without help as they grow up.”
Louise King of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, part of Just for Kids Law, told the Mirror: “The Government’s response to Covid-19 has demonstrated how children’s rights and voices are regularly overlooked.”