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Whiteman: Whilst a firm date for a return to school is not possible, a firm plan for the return is essential

Responding to the Secretary of State's inability to confirm a date that schools will reopen after half term during this morning’s round of media interviews, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Families and school leaders alike, who want to see disruption to pupils’ learning kept to an absolute minimum, will be very frustrated that restricted access to school looks set to continue beyond half term.

“That said, a firm announcement will bring clarity so that schools and families can respond to the decisions of government. The Secretary of State has done the right thing in not pursuing a hard date for a return to school and then waiting for the science to catch up.

“Government tells us that the rationale for restricting access to school has always been about suppressing community transmission, and all the while those rates remain dangerously high, the government has decided that restricted access to schools is an important part of the response.

“The government is not without options in other areas though, and it should remember this. All the while most pupils are locked down, the government must make sure it is doing everything in its power to meet the immediate needs of young people, anticipate what else might be necessary and set out the details of a longer term recovery.

“Nearly a year on from the start of the pandemic, we still don’t have this in place. The solution is to bring school leaders into the decision-making process, rather than paying lip service to engagement and issuing threats of legal action and inspection. Trusting the expertise, hard work and dedication of the profession is the route out of the pandemic, as far as education is concerned.”

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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