05/05/20

Government scientific advisors are proposing the idea of children in their final year of primary school being the first to return to classrooms from 1 June.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is said to be prioritising the return of older primary school children, to allow the year group a period of transition to secondary school in September.

According to reports, the 10 and 11-year-olds will be closely followed by other primary school children, in addition to secondary students in year 10 and 11.

The focus is getting primary school pupils back first but only if the R is at a safe level.

Whitehall spokesperson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to reveal an exit lockdown plan to include proposals of lifting restrictions on Sunday, with the reopening of schools regarding as an important milestone.

A Whitehall source said: “The focus is getting primary school pupils back first but only if the R (a measure of how the virus is spreading) is at a safe level. After primary schools have returned we will then look at years 10 and 12.”

Whitehall sources have claimed the earliest possible return of primary schoolchildren is intended to help parents to return to work.

The recent reports have received backing from Ofsted’s top chief, who said there is a ‘great deal of logic’ in such a move.

However, the NASUWT teaching union has said the Government needs to give “clarity about the purpose of reopening schools”, and schools need “much more detail and sufficient time to enable them to prepare”.

How will it work?

Schools will be expected to implement social distancing measures.

Schools will be expected to follow strict new rules which will see children split into small groups with perhaps siblings in the same class.

It has been suggested that students will be told to sit 6ft apart with strict social distancing measures in place in the classroom, canteen and playgrounds.

Drummond Community High School are a hub in Edinburgh who’ve already successfully managed to implement social distancing measures.

The headteachers of the 12 schools in the hub have taken turns to lead each day, along with teachers from their own school. Pupils are split into groups, with no more than six children per class, whilst ensuring siblings are kept together.

Whilst this may be possible for the older years, many have concerns as to how feasible the measures would be for the younger groups.

Dan Marrow, Chief Executive of the Woodland Academies Trust, told iNews that “It’s possibly not about year groups, it’s about characteristics and context and so for me, it’s more important that we’re getting [back] those children who have got speech and language delays, or who are in circumstances that are more challenging around their wellbeing.”