Yesterday Boris Johnson announced a phased return to school would begin at a targeted date of June 1 “at the earliest” with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
“In step two, at the earliest by June 1, after half term, we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops, and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.” said Mr Johnson, in an address to the nation.
The announcement comes after last week’s leaked reports that year six would be the first year group to return to school.
For most pupils, schools have been closed since 20 March.
”We believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops, and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.Boris JohnsonPrime Minister of the United Kingdom
However, this staggered approach sparked alarm, with the leader of the largest teaching union, calling the plan “nothing short of reckless”.
The National Education Union says 85% of its 49,000 members who responded to a survey following Mr Johnson’s speech disagreed with the suggestion to restart lessons for some year groups, while 92% said they would not feel safe with the proposed wider opening of schools.
Head teachers have warned that social distancing would mean schools would not have the capacity to teach all year groups at the same time.
Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, said it was important the reopening date was not “set in stone”, because it was not yet clear how the proposed numbers of pupils could be “safely managed”.
Secondary schools meanwhile, are likely to remain closed until September.
The Prime Minister said: “Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and transport.”