The planned reopening of schools in England on 1 June is not feasible, head teachers and council leaders have said.

National Association of Head Teachers head Paul Whiteman told MPs that, as his union understood official guidance, it would not be possible to reopen primaries as the government planned.

He told an MPs’ committee many schools would not be able to accommodate the advised 15 pupils in their classrooms.

Guidance on socially distancing in class was published on Monday evening.

It came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that he hoped primary schools would re-open to pupils from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, on June 1 “at the earliest”, if infection rates and the government’s other tests at the time allow it.

The guidance recommended more class sizes be cut to 15 – to allow for a two metre distance between pupils – but Mr Whiteman said many of his head teacher colleagues said they would only be able to accommodate fewer pupils in classrooms.

He told the Commons education select committee: “As we understand the requirements of social distancing today, we do not think that’s possible in terms of the return that’s outlined in what we’ve heard overnight and the day before.

The union was still getting to grips with the detail of the advice, he said which was only published late on Monday, he said.

“But,” he added, “I think the real issue here is the very important bond of trust between school and family.

“School leaders and teachers are in a position that they are not quite sure of the basics of the return, and the amount of risk that’s being assumed in the school setting, and all of the survey data that we are getting at the moment is that the vast majority of children’s parents at the moment don’t have the confidence of a return around the 1st of June.”

“If we are going to fill that void, we need to understand the underpinning science, we need to understand the medical advice that goes with it so we can then determine whether it’s possible in that setting or not,” he added.

His views were echoed by Jenny Jones, chairman of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, who oversees local authority schools.

She told MPs there needed to be a lot of work locally in the communities around schools before a return to class would be feasible.

“This is not something that’s going to be fixed by 1 June. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of weeks to do that.”

She said a five- or six-week lead in time was necessary to prepare parents and schools for the change.

Support around re-socialising pupils and pastoral care would be needed, and the message that had been so effective in keeping people home, would need to be reversed, so that parents felt comfortable sending their children out of their homes.

Mr Whiteman added on social distancing that individual schools were very different in terms of their buildings.

He said: “If social distancing is was we understand it, if the two metre rule is to be acted in schools, there are very many schools that simply say it’s impossible to achieve 10, 12, six or even eight pupils [per class].”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Where should Democrats focus: Turning out voters or convincing swing voters to back Biden?

Over the first two nights of the Democratic convention, Republicans who support former vice president Joe Biden have had about as prominent a role as the party’s young, more liberal voices. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), unquestionably the most famous and…

Gavin Williamson seeks to blame Ofqual for exams debacle

Gavin Williamson has tried to lay the blame for the exams fiasco at the door of the regulator Ofqual after a humiliating climbdown that overturned up to 2.3m grades but left thousands of pupils in limbo. Two days after saying…

Trump reports raising $210 million last month, lagging behind Biden’s record-breaking August haul

President Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and two affiliated fundraising committees on Wednesday announced raising $210 million in August — a sizable sum that still lags behind Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s record-breaking haul last month. The RNC said $76 million…

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the longest serving woman on the U.S. Supreme Court and a strong liberal voice on issues dividing the nation, has died, the Supreme Court said on Friday. She was 87. “Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this…