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Whiteman: Irresponsible speculation about re-opening schools must stop immediately

Today (19 April), The Sunday Times newspaper carries a front page story that says schools could re-open as early as 11th May. The newspaper claims to have seen a three-phase plan drawn up by senior cabinet ministers to lift the coronavirus lockdown.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Private briefings about senior ministers’ responses to Coronavirus simply must stop. It is irresponsible and is causing confusion and fear.

“I am pleased that the Secretary of State for Education has moved to set the record straight immediately.

“Any return to school must be led by the best scientific and medical advice available. But any return to school must be planned in dialogue with the profession and be accompanied by robust safety measures for pupils, parents, school staff and the wider community.

“The current frenzy of speculation about schools clearly comes from people outside the education arena demonstrating a profound misunderstanding of schools and the education context. A return to school is not a matter for debate it is a question for science.

“Schools stepped up immediately alongside other public services in response to this crisis. Not through compulsion but through a determination to play their part.

“Instructing school leaders and their teams to return without including them in the planning stages or sharing proper safety arrangements would be extremely reckless.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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