A survey conducted by the National Education Union (NEU) between May 31 and June 1 reveals how many schools chose to delay their wider reopening. Since March 23, nurseries, schools and colleges have remained open but only to a priority group of young people – children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
The government asked nurseries and primary schools to begin to welcome back students from reception, year one and year six from June 1.
When the Prime Minister first announced his ambition in May to reopen schools it was understood by the NEU to be conditional on whether the government’s coronavirus alert system dropped from level 4 to level 3.
However, on May 28 when the Prime Minister confirmed the wider opening of educational settings and schools, England still remained at level 4.
Out of the 10,953 schools represented in the NEU survey, 44 per cent did not open more widely to any of the year groups suggested by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
This week saw the phased reopening of schools in England
A survey reveals how many schools chose to delay their wider reopening
Thirty-five per cent of schools opened on the terms expected by the government and 21 per cent opened more widely, but on less than the terms expected by Mr Johnson.
In a statement, Kevin Courtney, the Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said: “Schools have been open throughout lockdown, caring for children of key workers and vulnerable children.
“It is clear from our latest survey, marking the start of lockdown easing, that many schools intend to delay wider opening.
“Some are not extending their opening beyond key workers and vulnerable children this term. Many have delayed wider opening until later in June.
The survey also showed that there is a regional variation in school re-openings
“Others will be opening for some but not all the age groups recommended by Government. All this will make our communities safer.”
The survey also showed that there is a regional variation in school re-openings which coincides with the levels of Covid-19 infection in each region.
For instance, just 12 per cent of schools in the North East and only 8 per cent in the North West, where levels of coronavirus are higher, opened fully to all eligible year groups in their school.
In the East of England, however, 50 per cent of schools surveyed opened fully to all the eligible year groups.
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The government asked nurseries and primary schools to begin to welcome back some students
The NEU believe it would have been safer for all schools to begin a wider opening later
Mr Courtney added: “It was always reckless of Boris Johnson to set an arbitrary date and expect schools to fall in line.
“Heads and their staff know far more about their individual challenges than Whitehall ever will.
“As the regional variation according to Coronavirus levels show, schools are listening to the science rather than politicians.”
The government is also asking secondary schools, sixth forms and further education colleges to begin offering face-to-face support to year 10 and 12 students, supplementing remote education from the 15th June.
Mr Courtney continued: “This disconnect should be a wake-up call for Government. Not only is the safety of the Government’s plan in question but also the feasibility of it and confidence of head teachers in what the Prime Minister requested.
“The Prime Minister should now act to ensure that education unions are involved in the planning of further steps as they are in Scotland and Wales.”
The NEU believe it would have been safer for all schools to begin the move to a wider opening in a couple of weeks from now.
The NEU say it was reckless of Boris Johnson to set an arbitrary date
They believe that in a few weeks the number of new cases per day should be lower and the system of testing, tracking and isolation of new cases will be bedded in.
Mr Courtney added: “Our survey shows this continues to be a complex, challenging situation for schools.
“Heads, teachers and support staff are using their professional judgement, working with the children they teach in circumstances where official guidance has been published long after planning needs to start.”
Published at Sat, 06 Jun 2020 03:43:00 +0000