THIS week, Chesham and Amersham MP Dame Cheryl Gillan writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers:

Pupils are returning to our schools, where teachers and other staff have been working and planning for a long time to ensure there are robust protective measures in place for everyone to work in a safe and welcoming environment.

I think most people would agree with the views of the UK’s four chief medical officers that it is far more damaging to the health, well-being and the life chances of youngsters if they do not go back to school now that the schools are reopening.

Put succinctly, the long term risk to young people of missing their education is High, while the risk of long-term damage from Covid-19 due solely to attending school is Low.

Strict hygiene (including hand-washing) and cleaning protocols have been introduced in schools.

Primary school pupils will stay in groups to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Older pupils and staff in areas where there are local restrictions will wear face coverings in communal areas where it is not possible to maintain social distancing.

Those of school age now have gone through unprecedented disruption to their education and we must give them all the help they need, especially when they leave education to find a job.

Last week, the Kickstart scheme was launched, with funding of £2 billion to create thousands of jobs.

Under this scheme, employers who sign up will be able to offer a six-month job placement to youngsters aged 16 to 24 who are claiming Universal Credit.

These placements will be fully funded by the government.

Young people will be referred into a placement by their Jobcentre Plus work coach, with the first entrants entering the scheme this November.

I would urge any employer who can help a young person to get their first job through this scheme to sign up now.