Drop plan to reopen English primary schools to all pupils, heads urge

Andrew Cummings
June 1, 2020

Across the United Kingdom, pupils in Year 1, Year 6 and Reception returned to their classrooms on Monday or the first time since March following the enforced closure of schools due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

While many schools have reopened, parents do not have to send their children to school if they do not wish to. For those that opened attendance was as low as 40% in some, rising to 70% elsewhere.

But there have been fears about safety from teachers' unions and some local authorities and many schools are not yet taking back more pupils.

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Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said reports from members suggested the picture on the ground was "very mixed", depending on differing local authority approaches, space constraints and staff availability.

The PM also said secondary schools will open to Years 10 and 12 on June 15.

"Parents and carers are being asked to play their part by agreeing to enter and leave the school premises as directed, observing social distancing and not gathering at the gates".

The children of key workers have continued to be taught throughout lockdown, but re-opening for more pupils has required every school prepare a risk assessment.

26 Island primary schools opened to three year groups. "It's ridiculous. It's not possible", he said.

There are up to 680,000 families across England which could expect all of their children to return to school - 17.5 percent of all families with primary or early years-aged children. Just 35% said they would.

"Given the anxious time we live in, the safe return to school is another important and reassuring step towards some kind of normality".

'The idea is also likely to be popular with parents, who however well-intentioned and motivated may need a break from home schooling and may also be in desperate need of childcare as they return to work'.

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