Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The country faces a truly unprecedented and grave situation. The government has explained to us that the decision taken about schools today, led by the scientific and health advice, will balance the need to restrict access to schools with continuing to provide some important functions to maintain the fabric of society. This is part of the state-wide response to this crisis. I know that the education sector wants to do all that it can to support the country.
“The government has changed what it expects schools to do. They are to offer reduced access in order to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable young people and the children of key workers. It is welcome that Ofsted inspection and all other performance measures have been suspended. School leaders have been making difficult choices already in response to a fast-moving situation. Today’s decision is a vote of confidence in how schools have responded so far. Schools can be confident they are doing a good job. Now, they should also be entitled to expect the necessary support from other organisations with civic responsibilities.
“The situation is moving very quickly, and we have more questions than answers at the moment. Whilst NAHT and its school leader members stand ready to assist with this response, there are many complicated issues to address immediately as a result of the government’s announcement today. This will be our focus in the next few days, to assist our members with this enormous task and to work alongside the DfE to make this work on the ground. It will not be easy, but the scale of the crisis means that many solutions will have to be tried even though they are less than perfect.
“We would also like to give credit to the Association of School and College Leaders for working so closely with us in this unprecedented situation.”
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Senior Press Officer