Today, school leaders’ union NAHT releases new figures from more than 4,000 of its members which show that 97 per cent of schools plan to welcome back all pupils full-time at the start of the autumn term.
In the tiny percentage of cases where schools are not doing this, schools are planning transition periods for new pupils or phasing entry to alleviate pupils’ anxieties about the return.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders union NAHT, said: “Everyone wants to see pupils back in class next week, with their teachers and their classmates. These figures clearly show that school leaders and their teams have worked incredibly hard over the summer to get schools ready for the start of the Autumn term.”
NAHT conducted its survey with a week to go before the first day of term. More than 4,000 school leaders responded.
Mr Whiteman continued: “We know that parents and families want their children to return, but we also know that confidence is a fragile thing. The long list of government delays, U-turns and uncertainty has not helped matters in the slightest, but school leaders and their teams have stuck to their task. They are the ones providing stability for parents right now.”
NAHT’s data shows that schools are using the full extent of the safety measures that have been recommended.
- 96 per cent are organising regular additional cleaning of classrooms and school premises
- 96 per cent are creating and maintaining pupil bubble groups
- 93 per cent are staggering lunchtimes and breaktimes
- 87 per cent are staggering start and finish times for pupils
- 83 per cent are installing signs to direct pupils and parents
- 79 per cent are installing additional handwashing or hand sanitation units
In a direct appeal to parents and carers, Mr Whiteman said, “Please do not let the very public political difficulties and arguments cloud your confidence in schools. School leaders and their teams have continued to do all that has been asked of them. With cooperation and understanding between home and school we can achieve the very best return possible despite the political noise”.
Mr Whiteman also stressed the importance of a ‘Plan B’, saying: “You don’t need a crystal ball to see that local restrictions will be a feature of the autumn and winter. We’ve already seen them happening in a few areas of the UK. All we’re asking the government to do is to meet us half-way. We’ve done everything we can to get ready but we can’t have any more last-minute plans.
“Last minute contingencies have caused chaos so far, but a credible, widely publicised and well-understood set of alternatives for schools in the event of further disruption will not only give us something to work with but will also help to reassure any families that are still nervous about coming back on day one.”
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