Monday 1 June is the day the government has indicated that schools should open more widely to pupils in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6. According to a new poll by school leaders’ union NAHT, the vast majority of schools have used positively the government support for local flexibility to achieve wider access to schools.
NAHT conducted the poll during a live members-only web briefing last Wednesday 27 May. Nearly 2,000 members attended the webcast and 833 school leaders responded to the poll. They were asked:
‘Assuming that the government indicates that the five tests have been met, which of the following best describes the approach your school will be taking either next week or the week after (week beginning 8 June)’
· 12.1% said they will increase the number of pupils attending school completely in line with the government’s proposals
· 77.6% said they will increase the number of pupils attending school but will make use of the flexibilities described (i.e. a smaller number of year groups, use of rotas, etc)
· 10.3% said they will not be in a position to increase the number of pupils attending school at all, either next week or the week after (week beginning 8 June)
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: “School leaders and their teams have worked tirelessly over the past two weeks to put in place arrangements to keep pupils, parents and staff as safe as possible from Monday. This is an incredible achievement in such a short space of time. Perhaps the most challenging set of circumstances schools have faced for generations.
“We have pushed hard for flexibility from the government around the 1 June date and for a willingness to take local circumstances into account. Without it many schools could not take the measures advised by Public Health England. It is encouraging to see that the majority of schools have used positively the flexibilities afforded to them. Much of the angst surrounding the widening of access could have been avoided if this approach had been supported by government earlier.
"School leaders will have staff unable to work because they’re shielding or have health issues, and that is fine. There will be other staff who simply do not have enough confidence to go back. We are saying, ‘Talk to those people with compassion and understanding.’
“The government now needs to use all of its powers to inform parents that their cooperation with local flexibility and adherence to public health advice will be essential to keeping schools safe.”
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