Boris Johnson’s plan to get all primary school pupils back to class before summer is ‘under review’

Boris Johnson was last night dealt a major blow to his plans to have all primary school students return before the summer holidays after education leaders said it would be ‘impossible’ for some schools to have children back safely. 

School governors and headteachers say some primary schools are simply ‘too small’ to allow proper safety measures to mitigate the risk of coronavirus to be implemented in time for students to return ahead of summer.

And although hundreds of thousands of primary school students returned to schools across the country today, Downing Street now say the government’s plan to have the remaining 550,000 children back before the start of next month is ‘under review’.

It come as a poll by the National Governance Association, the biggest head teachers’ union in Britain, revealed how three out of four of the 2,350 governors surveyed said it was ‘unlikely’ the remaining students would return ahead of the school holidays,as reported today by The Times.   

Boris Johnson was last night dealt a major blow to his plans to have all primary school students return before the summer holidays after education leaders said it would be 'impossible' for some schools to have children back safely. Pictured: Year 6 children at St Dunstan's College Junior School in London

Boris Johnson was last night dealt a major blow to his plans to have all primary school students return before the summer holidays after education leaders said it would be 'impossible' for some schools to have children back safely. Pictured: Year 6 children at St Dunstan's College Junior School in London

Boris Johnson was last night dealt a major blow to his plans to have all primary school students return before the summer holidays after education leaders said it would be ‘impossible’ for some schools to have children back safely. Pictured: Year 6 children at St Dunstan’s College Junior School in London

School governors and headteachers say some primary schools are simply 'too small' to allow proper safety measures to be implemented in time for students to return ahead of summer. Pictured: Children queue to enter the lunch hall at St Dunstan's College junior school in London

School governors and headteachers say some primary schools are simply 'too small' to allow proper safety measures to be implemented in time for students to return ahead of summer. Pictured: Children queue to enter the lunch hall at St Dunstan's College junior school in London

School governors and headteachers say some primary schools are simply ‘too small’ to allow proper safety measures to be implemented in time for students to return ahead of summer. Pictured: Children queue to enter the lunch hall at St Dunstan’s College junior school in London

Although hundreds of thousands of primary school students returned to schools across the country today, Downing Street now say the government's plan to have the remaining 550,000 children back before the start of next month is 'under review'. Pictured: Children eat their lunch at St Dunstan's College junior school in London

Although hundreds of thousands of primary school students returned to schools across the country today, Downing Street now say the government's plan to have the remaining 550,000 children back before the start of next month is 'under review'. Pictured: Children eat their lunch at St Dunstan's College junior school in London

Although hundreds of thousands of primary school students returned to schools across the country today, Downing Street now say the government’s plan to have the remaining 550,000 children back before the start of next month is ‘under review’. Pictured: Children eat their lunch at St Dunstan’s College junior school in London

Yesterday, more than half a million primary school children were kept at home as dozens of councils sided with unions to defy the government’s aims to ease students back into schools.  

At least 54 councils in England took the side of teaching unions, who have argued it is not yet safe for its members to return to schools amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The councils have either told schools not to reopen, or left the decision up to headteachers.

It meant as few as ’40 per cent of eligible primary pupils’ returned to classes today, with around 550,000 staying at home, as schools stayed shut, turned children away or even held ‘staff training days’.  

The Association of School and College Leaders said that of the facilities that are open attendance is ‘highly variable’ and ranges between ’40 per cent and 70 per cent’.

But the union’s general secretary Geoff Barton said this figure is likely to increase as ‘parents become become confident about sending their children to school’.

Up to two million pupils were due to return to lessons but some were turned away because headteachers ‘weren’t ready’ for them while around half of parents have chosen to keep their children at home because of safety fears.

Meanwhile, the children’s commissioner Anne Longfield yesterday called for pupils to be offered summer schools to help them catch up on their education.

Across the UK, pupils in Year 1, Year 6 and Reception returned to their classrooms yesterday for the first time since March following the enforced closure of schools due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ministers are now said to be considering leaving schools open over summer to help disadvantaged children cover missed work, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield wants to see summer schools set up to help pupils

Children across the UK returned to their classrooms on Monday as schools began to reopen

Writing in the newspaper, Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, said: ‘Based in school buildings and running throughout the holidays, summer schools could provide activities of all kinds, meals and potentially some learning too.

‘The idea is also likely to be popular with parents, who however well-intentioned and motivated may need a break from home schooling and may also be in desperate need of childcare as they return to work.’

Ms Longfield was appointed Children’s Commissioner in 2015, with the role aimed at bringing about long term change and improvements for all children.

Since taking up the post, Ms Longfield has championed several campaigns and schemes focused on children’s mental health, vulnerable children and the digital world.

St Michael in The Hamlet Community Primary School in Liverpool has reopened but only to the vulnerable and the children of key workers

St Michael in The Hamlet Community Primary School in Liverpool has reopened but only to the vulnerable and the children of key workers

St Michael in The Hamlet Community Primary School in Liverpool has reopened but only to the vulnerable and the children of key workers

Downing Street said the Government was looking at the support available for children over the summer months following calls for pupils in England to be offered catch-up classes. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The Education Secretary has set out his commitment to doing everything he can to make sure young people are not losing out as a result of coronavirus.

‘We are looking at what additional measures may be required to ensure every child has the support they need, including over the summer.’

‘As few as 40% of eligible primary pupils’ returned to classes today after schools stayed shut, turned children away or even held ‘staff training days’

As few as ’40 per cent of eligible primary pupils’ returned to classes yesterday as schools stayed shut, turned children away or even held ‘staff training days’.

The Association of School and College Leaders said that of the facilities that are open attendance is ‘highly variable’ and ranges between ’40 per cent and 70 per cent’.

But the union’s general secretary Geoff Barton said this figure is likely to increase as ‘parents become become confident about sending their children to school’.

Up to two million pupils were due to return to lessons but some were turned away because headteachers ‘weren’t ready’ for them while around half of parents have chosen to keep their children at home because of safety fears.

Up to 1,500 primary schools in England are estimated to be defying the Government’s plan to get all reception, year 1 and year 6 children back in the classroom from June 1 as teachers admitted they were feeling anxiety about returning to work and unions demanded the date be pushed back to June 15 at the earliest.

Parents have revealed that many schools will remain closed for at least another week or more, while some have not yet set a date at all. In other cases schools decided they can only increase the number of places for key workers’ children, not for everyone.

At least two dozen councils, mostly Labour run, have refused to reopen their schools or left it up to headteachers, who are trying to find ways to ensure social distancing in their school buildings and ensuring they have enough teachers to teach ‘bubbles’ of up to ten children.

But while hundreds of thousands of young students are back in class and reunited with their friends and teachers yesterday, MailOnline can reveal there was confusion at several schools in London with some parents arriving with their children only to be informed they couldn’t come in and had to go home again.

Parents at Winsor Primary School in east London were turned away yesterday and told teachers are still making arrangements. 

Glauciane Conti was turned away at the school gate with her son who is in year one.

The 35-year-old cleaner from Forest Gate said: ‘My son just went in to ask the teachers and they say it is not open as they are still making arrangements. I don’t understand. Now I have to go to work’. Gallions Primary School, also in Beckton, plans to remain closed to the general public this week.

Hanif Hazari, 58 accompanied his son Mahmamudullabi who is a year 6 pupil at Havelock Primary School in Southall, west London after being informed via a text message that it was reopening following the easing of the lockdown.

Mr Hazari said: ‘The playground was completely deserted so I went into the school office and they told me that the school has now decided to remain closed and they don’t have a date as yet as to when it will open. It’s very confusing, I don’t know what’s going on. The Government appears to be saying one thing and the schools another.’ Mahmamudullabi, 11, added: ‘I hope the school opens soon because I’m getting really bored at home.’

Jaswinder Grover, who arrived at the school with his daughter Simran, a year 6 pupil said: ‘I was initially told that the school would reopen today but as you can see, hardly anybody has turned up. And now the school is telling me something completely different. The Government needs to be a clearer about what’s actually going on and when our kids can go back to school, which I hope is soon.’

A Havelock Primary official told MailOnline the school is now not scheduled to reopen until June 15 at the very earliest. He added: ‘Some parents were under the impression that we were opening on June 1. We’re very sorry for any confusion that’s been caused, and parents will be notified as soon as possible.’ 

A government source denied the situation was ‘chaos’, insisting the process of returning appeared to be going well. ‘Many schools are welcoming back more pupils, take-up is in line with expectations,’ the source said. ‘We always said schools would begin the wider reopening from this week, it’ll be a gradual process.’ 

As schools reopened for the first time in ten weeks, it also emerged yesterday:

  • Public health officers warn lockdown is being eased to fast and police say the rules are becoming impossible to enforce. Beaches have been crammed because of continuing good weather;
  • Britain have been handed a host of new freedoms – including meeting with friends and family, the reopening of some shops and pupils returning to school. But health experts warn there is ‘no rationale’ in letting two million people who were ‘shielding’ from Covid go back outside;
  • Huge queues formed outside Ikea as the Government allowed more shops, markets and car showrooms to open; 

A child has his temperature taken at Harris Primary Academy in south London as up to 2million pupils were due to return to class

A child has his hand sanitised with the help of a member of staff at a Croydon Primary School this morning

A child has his hand sanitised with the help of a member of staff at a Croydon Primary School this morning

children skipped in the playground while watched by teachers in full PPE

children skipped in the playground while watched by teachers in full PPE

A child has his hand sanitised with the help of a member of staff at a Croydon Primary School this morning. While children skipped in the playground while watched by teachers in full PPE

Children  in Year 1 have their own desks in the modern Harris Academy Primary School in south London. Many headteachers with older schools say they don't have the space

Children  in Year 1 have their own desks in the modern Harris Academy Primary School in south London. Many headteachers with older schools say they don't have the space

Children  in Year 1 have their own desks in the modern Harris Academy Primary School in south London. Many headteachers with older schools say they don’t have the space

A child is dropped off at Queen's Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk as reception, year 1 and year 6  pupils return across England

A child is dropped off at Queen's Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk as reception, year 1 and year 6  pupils return across England

A child is dropped off at Queen’s Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk as reception, year 1 and year 6  pupils return across England

Reception pupil Braydon washes his hands whilst watching an electronic timer at Queen's Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk. Children will be asked to wash up regularly through the day

Reception pupil Braydon washes his hands whilst watching an electronic timer at Queen's Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk. Children will be asked to wash up regularly through the day

Reception pupil Braydon washes his hands whilst watching an electronic timer at Queen’s Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk. Children will be asked to wash up regularly through the day

A girl arrives for her first day back at Watlington Primary School in Oxfordshire

A girl arrives for her first day back at Watlington Primary School in Oxfordshire

A girl arrives for her first day back at St Michael in The Hamlet Community Primary School in Liverpool

A girl arrives for her first day back at St Michael in The Hamlet Community Primary School in Liverpool

Children arrive for their first day back at Watlington Primary School  (left) in Oxfordshire and at St Michael in The Hamlet Community Primary School in Liverpool (right)

2m social distancing markings and signs at Ashton Gate Primary School in Bristol as children return after lockdown

2m social distancing markings and signs at Ashton Gate Primary School in Bristol as children return after lockdown

2m social distancing markings and signs at Ashton Gate Primary School in Bristol as children return after lockdown

How mostly Labour-run councils have refused to obey the Government and open primary schools on June 1

Opposed 

Brighton and Hove (Labour)

Slough (Labour) 

Teesside  Labour)

Solihull (Conservative)

Stockport (Labour)

Bury (Labour)

Liverpool (Labour)

Hartlepool (Labour)

Wirrall (Labour) 

Calderdale (Labour) 

Birmingham (Labour) 

Bradford (Labour) 

Leeds (Labour) 

Have expressed ‘reservations’ but leaving it to schools

Wakefield (Labour)

Barking and Dagenham (Labour)

Redbridge (Labour)

Bristol (Labour)

Southampton (Labour)

Newcastle (Labour)

Advertisement

However, Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield believes schools will need to hold summer schools to enable pupils to catch up on work they have missed during the enforced break.

Ms Longfield said in The Telegraph: ‘Based in school buildings and running throughout the holidays, summer schools could provide activities of all kinds, meals and potentially some learning too,’ she said.

‘The idea is also likely to be popular with parents, who however well-intentioned and motivated may need a break from home schooling and may also be in desperate need of childcare as they return to work.’

One teacher wrote this morning: ‘Lots of us are going to feel very apprehensive and anxious about the new changes, however that looks in our school. We stand with each other.’

Cathy Moden, headteacher of Hiltingbury Infant School in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, said she had anticipated 45 of the 90 children in Reception to attend on Monday but only 39 turned up.

Ms Moden said: ‘I do expect it to increase, I think some parents have made a decision on what they have heard in the media, I have heard from some parents they aren’t ready yet to send their children.’

Queen’s Hill Primary and Nursery School near Norwich reopened to reception children on Monday, with 46 attending out of a total of 75 in the year group.

The school has been open to children of key workers throughout the coronavirus lockdown, with plans to reopen to nursery children next week and to children in Years 1 and 6 from June 15.

Emma Corps, 39, was in a socially distanced queue of parents as she dropped off her five-year-old daughter Isla at the school gates.

‘I was a bit anxious but she was excited and I think they need to go back to school as there needs to be some sort of normality back in their lives,’ she said.

‘For the 10 weeks she was saying ‘when am I going back, when am I going back?’ then at 6.30am this morning it was ‘mummy, quick’!’

Jo Frost, 37, who was dropping off her five-year-old son Max at Queen’s Hill Primary and Nursery School near Norwich, said: ‘It’s obviously a difficult decision but you’ve got to weigh up everything in life.

‘You can’t just shut yourself away and wrap yourself up in cotton wool. You could just walk out the door and anything could happen.

‘The school have really thought about it. They’ve sent out lots of letters, pictures and given us all the information we need. I feel confident that they’re doing everything right.  We were quite relieved, to be honest, as it’s quite a long time that he’s been off and at his age it’s really important to be with his peers. 

Penny Sheppard, head teacher of Queen’s Hill Primary and Nursery School near Norwich, which reopened to reception children on Monday, said: ‘I think if I’m honest a lot of headteachers were quite surprised about June 1 because I think we’d been doing a lot of reading about things in the media.

‘Probably a lot of us had thought ‘OK, we won’t be having children back until September’. But then like anything you take it in your stride don’t you?

‘You think OK, right, after that little bit of a shock announcement, let’s think about this logically and then just start a plan of action to work towards that.

‘We’ve been open throughout this and I’ve had 60 children (of key workers) in childcare so I know that the systems I’ve put in place are workable and the children, I’ve been keeping them in their separate ‘pods’.

‘I knew it was just an extension of that’. 

A child makes a bubble at Watlington Primary School in lunch break on the first day back for many children

A child makes a bubble at Watlington Primary School in lunch break on the first day back for many children

A child makes a bubble at Watlington Primary School in lunch break on the first day back for many children 

A teacher during an outdoor class at Watlington Primary School as some schools re-open as the lockdown eases

A teacher during an outdoor class at Watlington Primary School as some schools re-open as the lockdown eases

A teacher during an outdoor class at Watlington Primary School as some schools re-open as the lockdown eases

Schools, like this one in Norfolk, are using fruit to mark out where children should sit in their class bubbles, which are less than ten

Schools, like this one in Norfolk, are using fruit to mark out where children should sit in their class bubbles, which are less than ten

Schools, like this one in Norfolk, are using fruit to mark out where children should sit in their class bubbles, which are less than ten

A year 6 sturent returns to a Bristol school with his mother today - most children are not wearing uniform to ensure children wear clean clothes each day

A year 6 sturent returns to a Bristol school with his mother today - most children are not wearing uniform to ensure children wear clean clothes each day

A year 6 sturent returns to a Bristol school with his mother today – most children are not wearing uniform to ensure children wear clean clothes each day

Summer camps may be set up to enable children to catch up on lessons after the closures. Queen's Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk opened

Summer camps may be set up to enable children to catch up on lessons after the closures. Queen's Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk opened

Summer camps may be set up to enable children to catch up on lessons after the closures. Queen’s Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk opened

Pupils will begin returning to classrooms across England today, at Heath Mount Prep School in Watton-at-Stone, desks have been moved further to maintain social distancing rules

Pupils will begin returning to classrooms across England today, at Heath Mount Prep School in Watton-at-Stone, desks have been moved further to maintain social distancing rules

Pupils will begin returning to classrooms across England today, at Heath Mount Prep School in Watton-at-Stone, desks have been moved further to maintain social distancing rules 

Desks have been taped off with smaller classroom sizes at some schools, including Holywell Village First School in Northumberland

Desks have been taped off with smaller classroom sizes at some schools, including Holywell Village First School in Northumberland

Desks have been taped off with smaller classroom sizes at some schools, including Holywell Village First School in Northumberland

Freddie Noble, six, and his little brother Will, three, are returning to school in West Norfolk today

Freddie Noble, six, and his little brother Will, three, are returning to school in West Norfolk today

Freddie Noble, six, and his little brother Will, three, are returning to school in West Norfolk today

CORONAVIRUS CASE CONFIRMED AT PRIMARY SCHOOL 

A Primary School in Gloucestershire sent a letter to parents last week confirming someone at the school had tested positive for coronavirus.

Woolaston Primary School in Lydney believe the person contracted the illness at a holiday camp held at the school, and sent the letters to parents last week.

It comes as schools across the country reopen their doors on Monday for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. 

Woolaston Primary’s acting headteacher Emma Gomersall confirmed the school carried out a deep clean on Wednesday and Thursday.

Ministers are in discussions over summer camps to enable disadvantaged children, along with a ‘catch-up premium’ that will grant schools extra funding for initiatives to help the most affected pupils.

This comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson acknowledged the recent school closures would have the biggest impact upon the poorest children.

An announcement is due to come in the next few weeks, despite objections from teaching unions if the plans involve working over the summer.

This could lead to another row between the government and unions, in the face of Ms Longfield’s concerns that pupils may be absent from schools for up to six months.

History teacher Chris Beach said: ‘First day back in school today. We in Guernsey are blessed to have no active cases, but I am worried for friends and ex-colleagues in the UK – stay safe everyone.’

Another commented ‘Anxiety through the roof for many,’ as primary school children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 are able to return to school after 10 weeks out.

Schools have been preparing for classrooms to reopen for weeks, corridors have been marked off to keep pupils apart as they go about their school day, while desks have also been moved to maintain a distance of two metres between schools. 

Bowie Cool, four, and her mum Lozzie Cool from West Sussex, took a practice walk to school on Sunday to prepare for a return to the school run this morning

Bowie Cool, four, and her mum Lozzie Cool from West Sussex, took a practice walk to school on Sunday to prepare for a return to the school run this morning

Bowie Cool, four, and her mum Lozzie Cool from West Sussex, took a practice walk to school on Sunday to prepare for a return to the school run this morning

Children as young as four are being put in social distancing bubbles in classrooms and playgorunds to prevent the spread of Covid-19 germs

Children as young as four are being put in social distancing bubbles in classrooms and playgorunds to prevent the spread of Covid-19 germs

Children as young as four are being put in social distancing bubbles in classrooms and playgorunds to prevent the spread of Covid-19 germs 

Corridors have been marked off to keep pupils apart at a school in Northumberland

Corridors have been marked off to keep pupils apart at a school in Northumberland

Corridors have been marked off to keep pupils apart at a school in Northumberland 

‘Scaremongering’ Charlotte Church is blasted over ‘hatred-inciting’ call for England’s parents to keep children off school in foul-mouthed Twitter rant

Charlotte Church today suffered an avalanche of criticism after urging England’s parents not to send their children to school claiming Boris Johnson doesn’t ‘give a flying f**k’ about them.

The 34-year-old mother of two’s extraordinary Twitter outburst came despite the singer living in Wales where schools will remain closed until September. 

Taking to Twitter on Sunday morning, she wrote: ‘Highly recommend if you can help it, not sending your children back to school tomorrow…..this government doesn’t give a flying f**k about you, your children, your elders or your vulnerable.’

Parents who want their children to return to school have accused the star of ‘shaming’ them, with one saying: ‘What a ridiculous and hatred inciting statement’. Another replied to her message saying: ‘This is shocking. There are many children who haven’t had any education for the last 10 weeks. You as a mother I would have thought would have understood the importance of this’.

And critics have also pointed out that Ms Church’s advice to parents with children in mainstream school came despite her decision  home school her own offspring since 2016. 

Last year she enraged her Glamorgan community by turning her £2.5million home into a private school where she hopes to ‘liberate’ children up to 20 children. One neighbour said: ‘She has no educational background or track record in managing a school.’ Ms Church homeschools her own children Ruby, 11, and Dexter, 10, and claims she now she is pledging to give other children in their area freedom over what to learn.  

Most teachers have reduced class sizes, which will operate in bubbles, with no interaction with other classes.

For younger years, toys have been taken out of classroom and are being kept in storage out of fear they could hold Covid-19 germs.   

Brian Walton, head teacher at Brookside Academy in Somerset, spoke to Good Morning Britain ahead of pupils’ arrival from 7.30am.

He said: ‘Like headteachers up and down the country we’ve been planning this probably from when lockdown started really. It’s taken meticulous plans consultation with staff and parents. 

‘Like most of the teachers right now I’m glad it was a really early start because I probably wouldn’t have slept anyway.’ 

Children are at an extremely low risk of catching coronavirus. The majority of hospital admissions are people over 60.

The main concern over pupils returning to school is the potential spread of germs between different households, while teachers who may be at risk could also be exposed.

Headteachers have also predicted that more than one in five teachers will be forced to work from home because of health conditions, their age or because members of their family are vulnerable. 

Co-headteacher Matt Ferris of Kingsholm Primary School has explained many of the new features in response to parents’ questions over how their children will adapt to social distancing measures,

They will be given a designated time slot and and allotted area  – or pen – where they leave their child before heading off along a designated walkway.

Pupils will be told to maintain social distancing between others, and they will only be allowed to mix with a small number of others.

Students who do not conform with the social distancing rules will also be sent home on a three-strikes policy. 

In a video published on the school’s website, Mr Ferris talks parents through what they can expect when Year 6, Year 1 and Reception and nursery children return on June 1.

Drop off and collection times will be staggered with queues and marked walkways for parents and pupils to follow. 

Kingsholm is using timeslots based on surnames, with parents being asked to drop children off alone, without siblings or other children. 

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Hertford has prepared its classrooms for pupils' return

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Hertford has prepared its classrooms for pupils' return

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Hertford has prepared its classrooms for pupils’ return

What can I do as lockdown measures ease in England? 

Coronavirus rules are changing in England from today, here are some important things to bare in mind.

Can I meet more people?

From June 1 you will be able to meet up to six people from separate households, in outside spaces.

This means that you can meet limited numbers of family and friends in gardens and parks, but you must continue to follow social distancing rules.

You can play sports with the people that you meet, but only if it is possible to keep a two-metre space between you, such as tennis or football. 

Will my children go to school?

Primary schools can begin to open for pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from Monday.

Vulnerable children and children of key workers can still go to class, and teaching can start for older pupils in Year 10 and Year 12 in two weeks time, Monday June 15.

Will any more shops be open?

Most non-essential shops will remain closed on Monday, but car showrooms and outdoor markets will be allowed to reopen.

Other non-essential shops can start to trade again from June 15.

Can I go on a day out?

Day trips to outdoor spaces are allowed as long as you do not stay the night. While on a trip people have to maintain social distancing and hotels are still closed.

Will there still be punishments for breaking the rules?

Yes, and fines for rulebreakers have been increased.

Penalties for a first offence are now set at £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within two weeks) and double for every subsequent rule breach, up to £3,200.

If I am shielding can I leave the house?

From Monday, the two million people who have been shielding in England can now leave the house to spend time with people outdoors.

Those considered extremely vulnerable will be able to go outside with members of their household, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines.

And those who live alone can meet outside with one other person from another household, also adhering to social distancing guidelines.

What are the rules in Wales?

From Monday people from two households in Wales will be able to meet outdoors, as long as they do not travel more than five miles and observe social distancing.

People who have been shielding will also be able to exercise outdoors and meet people from another household, but must not go into another house or share food.

What are the rules in Scotland?

Since Friday, people north of the border have been allowed to meet in groups of eight, outdoors in parks or gardens, but these gatherings can only include members of two separate households.

There have been no changes to rules for people who are shielding.

What are the rules in Northern Ireland?

Some rules will be relaxed in Northern Ireland on June 8.

In a week, some more shops such as car showrooms can open, and outdoor weddings will be able to take place, but limited to fewer than ten people.

Pets can also go to grooming parlours, and outdoor sport facilities will be allowed to open. 

Pupils will be dropped off by parents in to pens that will be sectioned with barriers as they arrive.

Parents have raised their own concerns however, Vix Lowthion wrote: ‘My children are not going back to school tomorrow. I have spent weeks trying to influence this govt’s pathetic handling of the pandemic. 

‘It’s now got to the point I have to protect my own kids and their teachers and families. It’s the responsible thing to do.’ 

Other parents are happy with a return to school life though, with one father saying his child was going ‘stir crazy,’ during the lockdown. 

Ministers last night reassured parents that reopening primary schools today is safe amid fears that up to a million children may be kept away. 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘extremely important’ children went back to school.

It comes as a study suggested up to half of families may shun sending their youngsters to lessons due to worries about the spread of coronavirus.

This means that a million children, half of those in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, could be kept off, in a blow to the government’s hopes of getting back to normal.  

The majority of primaries are expected to open from today, despite fierce opposition from the National Education Union. 

At the 11th hour, the union again attempted to scupper openings, claiming they should be delayed until June 15 to protect youngsters and teachers.

Unions are also vehemently opposed to rumours of summer school classes being set up for vulnerable children. Minsters are thought to be considering it as a possibility to make sure pupils get the best opportunities. 

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), told Sky teachers should not have to work over the summer holidays.

She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘Teachers have been working flat out to provide education for children at home.

‘So what should happen is – and we do support this – clubs and activities on a volunteer basis.’

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson attempted to allay parental and staff concerns, insisting that Government decisions throughout the pandemic are ‘based on the best scientific and medical advice’.

He said: ‘While there might be some nervousness, I want to reassure parents and teachers that the welfare of children and staff continues to be at the heart of all of our considerations.

‘For the past three weeks the sector has been planning and putting protective measures in place.’

Speaking at the Downing Street briefing, Mr Jenrick said ministers believe it is ‘possible to open schools safely’. He pointed out that 80 per cent of schools have been open throughout the pandemic, with thousands of teachers already educating children of key workers as well as vulnerable pupils.

Mr Jenrick said: ‘It may be that there are some parents out there today who have not yet made the decision to send their children back to school but will do so in the days ahead when they’ve seen other people make that step and schools manage to reopen safely.

‘I certainly hope so, because it’s extremely important that we do get children back to school.

‘All of the evidence suggests that it is children from the most deprived, the poorer households, who are losing out by not having that crucial face-to-face contact that you get in a school setting. I don’t want to see that continue for any longer.’

Government safety measures include returning primary pupils having access to coronavirus testing, along with symptomatic members of their family. They will be kept in small, socially distanced groups of no more than 15 throughout the day, with staggered breaks, lunchtimes, drop-offs and pick-ups.

Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer, told the press conference that testing capacity across the country ‘is now very significant’ at up to 200,000 a day. 

She pointed out that the ‘risks of social interactions are reduced’ as pupils will be kept in small groups. Boris Johnson wants nurseries and early years providers to reopen today, and primary schools to allow back their Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 groups.

Some students in Year 10 and 12 will be allowed to meet face-to-face with their teachers at secondary school from June 15.

The majority of primaries are expected to reopen. But many are only admitting a fraction of eligible pupils, with the introduction of rotas, as they struggle to adapt to smaller classes and reduced teacher levels.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘extremely important’ children went back to school

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘extremely important’ children went back to school

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was ‘extremely important’ children went back to school

The National Foundation for Educational Research surveyed 1,233 head teachers in state primary and secondary schools in England.

They expect nearly half (46 per cent) of families to keep their children at home because of their concerns around coronavirus or the need to self-isolate. The figure is slightly higher for primary schools (47 per cent) compared to 42 per cent in secondary schools.

Across all schools, those with the highest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals – an indicator of poverty – estimate the figure to be 50 per cent. This compares to 42 per cent in schools which have low levels of disadvantaged students.

Three mothers are considering launching legal battle with Government claiming school closures during coronavirus crisis may have breached their children’s human rights

By Jim Norton for the Daily Mail

Three mothers may sue the Government over school closures, claiming it may have breached children’s human rights.

They have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to ask whether the mental welfare of pupils has been considered.

They also fear draconian social distancing rules planned for returning schools could cause long-term psychological damage.

Liz Cole, 46, is one of three mothers who set up the Us for Them campaign

Liz Cole, 46, is one of three mothers who set up the Us for Them campaign

Christine Brett, 48, is one of three mothers who wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to ask whether the mental welfare of pupils has been considered

Christine Brett, 48, is one of three mothers who wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to ask whether the mental welfare of pupils has been considered

Welfare fears: Campaigners Liz Cole, 46, left, and Christine Brett, 48, right, are two mothers who could sue the government over school closures

Campaigner Christine Brett, who has two children, said: ‘These are healthy children who have been quarantined for 12 weeks – they shouldn’t be treated like they’re germs, disinfected on entry and separated on to individual tables.’

Schools will return today for select year groups for the first time since March 20.

The three mothers launched the Us for Them campaign for parents who say they were made to feel like pariahs for disagreeing with children being kept at home because of Covid-19. Molly Kingsley, 41, Liz Cole, 46, and Mrs Brett, 48, all from Cambridgeshire, have one child returning to school and another still at home.

They said evidence the lockdown harms youngsters’ well-being may have been overlooked. The group is also arguing against extreme distancing as it may breach the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Former lawyer Molly Kingsley (pictured) is one of three mothers who said evidence the lockdown harms youngsters’ well-being may have been overlooked

Former lawyer Molly Kingsley (pictured) is one of three mothers who said evidence the lockdown harms youngsters’ well-being may have been overlooked

Former lawyer Molly Kingsley (pictured) is one of three mothers who said evidence the lockdown harms youngsters’ well-being may have been overlooked

They have instructed lawyers to examine whether Government actions so far and the distancing plans may have been unlawful.

Former lawyer Mrs Kingsley said if it failed to take into account children’s welfare, they are prepared to sue. Almost 2,000 parents and teachers have backed the campaign.

A Department for Education spokesman insisted the welfare of children had been ‘at the heart of all considerations’.

Children and young people will experience high levels of loneliness and depression for up to NINE YEARS after lockdown ends 

Children and young people are likely to experience high rates of depression and anxiety long after the lockdown ends, according to a review.

The research draws on more than 60 pre-existing, peer-reviewed studies into topics spanning isolation, loneliness and mental health for young people aged between four and 21.

It concludes that young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future, and that the impact of loneliness and mental health could last for at least nine years.

Authors of the study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said clinical services need to be prepared for a future spike in demand.

It concludes that young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future

It concludes that young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future

It concludes that young people who are lonely might be as much as three times more likely to develop depression in the future

The study comes as NHS England’s top doctor for children and young people’s mental health has urged parents to be alert to signs of anxiety, distress or low mood as some pupils return to school on Monday.

Dr Maria Loades, clinical psychologist from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, said: ‘From our analysis, it is clear there are strong associations between loneliness and depression in young people, both in the immediate and the longer term.

‘We know this effect can sometimes be lagged, meaning it can take up to 10 years to really understand the scale of the mental health impact the Covid-19 crisis has created.

‘There is evidence that it’s the duration of loneliness as opposed to the intensity which seems to have the biggest impact on depression rates in young people.

‘This means that returning to some degree of normality as soon as possible is of course important.

‘However, how this process is managed matters when it comes to shaping young people’s feelings and experiences about this period.

Schools should be resourced and given clear guidelines on how to support children's emotional wellbeing during the transition period as schools reopen, the experts say

Schools should be resourced and given clear guidelines on how to support children's emotional wellbeing during the transition period as schools reopen, the experts say

Schools should be resourced and given clear guidelines on how to support children’s emotional wellbeing during the transition period as schools reopen, the experts say

‘For our youngest and their return to school from this week, we need to prioritise the importance of play in helping them to reconnect with friends and adjust following this intense period of isolation.’

Members of the review team were also involved in a recent open letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

They suggest that the easing of the lockdown should be done in a way that provides children with time and opportunity to play with peers.

Schools should be resourced and given clear guidelines on how to support children’s emotional wellbeing during the transition period as schools reopen, the experts say.

They call for play – rather than academic progress – to be the priority during this time.

Their letter concludes: ‘Poor emotional health in children leads to long-term mental health problems, poorer educational attainment and has a considerable economic burden.’

Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS England’s associate national clinical director for children and young people’s mental health, said the return to school may cause anxiety for some pupils as well as those who remain at home feeling isolated or left out.

She stressed that NHS mental health services remain available for children and young people.

‘Children and young people may be experiencing a variety of feelings in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including anxiety, distress and low mood, and it is important to understand that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation,’ Prof Chitsabesan said.

‘The NHS offers a large amount of mental health support for children and young people, and if a child needs urgent mental health support or advice, check nhs.uk for services in your area, including 24/7 crisis support.’

NHS England issued advice on what parents should look out for and steps they can take to look after their child’s mental health.

Signs include finding children are more upset or struggling to manage their emotions, appearing anxious or distressed, increased trouble with sleeping and eating, appearing low in mood, reporting worried thoughts or more bed wetting in younger children.

Parents can help by making time to talk to their children, allowing them to talk about feelings, trying to understand their problems, helping their child do positive activities, trying to keep a routine and looking after their own mental health.

Nadine Dorries, minister for mental health, said: ‘As many children start to return to school, it’s vital we continue to give them the support they need to maintain their mental health and wellbeing and deal with any feelings of uncertainty or worry they may be experiencing.

‘The NHS remains there for those who need it and our mental health services are adapting to best support families and children as we all get used to these changes in routine.’

link

(Visited 8 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply