The GSD is disturbed by the concerns that teachers have expressed publicly today. It calls upon the GSLP-Liberal Government to take all steps necessary to allay the fears of parents and pupils before return to school. In the meantime and till the Government is satisfied on all safety issues, the GSD supports the call by Gibraltar NASUWT to delay the opening of the new co-educational comprehensive schools.

Given that the Opposition has been unable to ask questions in Parliament since January 2019, the GSD calls upon the Minister for Education to make a full statement on the readiness of schools immediately. Furthermore, the Minister should clarify rumours that health and safety certificates have still not been issued despite teachers being required to work in some areas of the new schools and that all necessary certification will be in place before any pupil walks into any new building.

Although we have for some time been hearing misgivings about the schools being unfit for purpose by the set opening date, the GSD has allowed the Government reasonable time to deliver the promised schools albeit with the customary School Year starting date already suffering two weeks delay.

GSD Shadow Minister for Education Edwin Reyes said:

“Reports of teachers suffering personal injuries is unacceptable and we cannot expose pupils and staff to those dangers if school opens next week. Alongside agreeing with the Union President that the safety of their members is paramount, the safety of pupils must be ranked equally as important.

Reports are also reaching me from teachers to the effect that examination classes requiring the teaching of practical activities such as Home Economics and Science subjects will not have necessary facilities fully functional until after the Christmas break. If this is so then it is totally unacceptable that pupils will not have had an opportunity to be properly prepared for their forthcoming important public examinations.”

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said:

“The safety of our children and teachers must be paramount. They cannot possibly go into the schools if they are not ready or there is any aspect that is unsafe. But if there is further delay and children’s schooling is affected then this fault lies at the Government’s door because of their obsessive, costly and electoral insistence in wanting to open the schools before the election. This could have been delivered at better value for money and more safely if the Government had not rushed for the line and instead delivered the schools more carefully for the next academic year. Nothing would have been lost, money would have been saved and greater safety would have been assured.”