Union criticises 'flimsy' evidence behind Government's plan to reopen schools

Union criticises 'flimsy' evidence behind Government's plan to reopen schools”

Schools in England could re-open as early as next month, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed at today's coronavirus daily governmental briefing.

He insisted the government would continue to consider all advice ahead of schools' June 1 reopening.

"The longer schools are closed, the more children miss out" Mr Williamson said.

He added that there are children from hard or very unhappy homes "for whom school is the happiest moment" in the week "and the safest place to be" and those children should be supported in their return to school.

Already this week communities secretary Robert Jenrick and health secretary Matt Hancock have dodged questions during the Downing Street briefing about whether teachers could be disciplined if they refuse to go back to work from early June. "We owe it to the children".

"We are asking questions about the science which underpins this approach on behalf of our members, their staff, parents and pupils".

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said a return to school is vital for children suffering from abuse at home.

In Liverpool, only the children of key workers and vulnerable children will be allowed in school from June 1, the city council confirmed on Friday.

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England is the only United Kingdom nation to set a date for schools to start to reopen.

They have been looking at introducing one-way systems, half days, and staggered lunches in a bid to keep young children apart.

Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Trust, which has 35 primary schools across the country, told PA that it is "common sense" for pupils to return to school, especially for children from lower-income families who see it as a place of "security and safety".

"We will be carefully monitoring the impact this first phase has", he said.

Williamson said that schools in England would reopen for certain students such as those in the early stages and late stages of both primary and secondary education.

"The poorest children, the most disadvantaged who do not have the support at home who will fall furthest behind".

Mr Williamson has welcomed efforts by many schools to prepare for reopening next month. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information.

Asked about the possibility of disciplinary action or newly graduated teachers being drafted in to fill gaps in classrooms he said: "We are working with all teaching representatives right across the sector to give people the confidence of returning to school, and teachers understand there is no substitute for children to being taught by them".

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