Northamptonshire's education authority backs June 1 school re-open plan

The LEA says it will support schools to welcome back some year groups

Friday, 22nd May 2020, 10:17 am
Updated Friday, 22nd May 2020, 10:18 am
Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils are set to go back to school on June 1.

Northamptonshire’s local education authority has backed the Government’s plan for school’s to re-open to some pupils.

The plans to get reception, Year 1 and Year 6 back into the classroom, has been the most controversial aspect of the government’s lockdown easing measures so far, with school unions questioning how safe the plans are and demanding more answers from Boris Johnson’s government. The department for education is expected to make a final decision next week.

However despite the standoff schools have been making plans to welcome back the pupils, re-adjusting classrooms to try and ensure pupils can social distance and sterilising equipment. Most have always been open to small numbers of vulnerable pupils and children of essential workers but welcoming back whole classes will be a logistical headache for most school leaders.

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Some councils have come out against the June 1 re-opening, but Northamptonshire County Council has said it will support schools to bring the pupils back.

Cllr Fiona Baker, cabinet member for children’s services at Northamptonshire County Council, said: “Since lockdown began, schools in Northamptonshire have been going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that education is still accessible for local children.

“The government has asked schools to prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June. At Northamptonshire County Council, we believe that it is important for children to resume their education so they can learn and interact with their peers. However, this needs to be done in such a way that we minimise the risks to pupils, staff and parents as much as possible.

“To decide what is feasible, we are asking schools to carry out an initial comprehensive risk assessment so that leaders can evaluate potential solutions on how they can safely and effectively accommodate eligible pupils. We want schools, in the first instance, to take a phased approach to how many pupils they take back and from when.

“Schools have different numbers of vulnerable and key worker children, different numbers of staff who will not be able to attend school in person because they or a family member are in a vulnerable category and therefore shielding, and different abilities to implement social distancing.

“We can expect therefore, that there will not be one county-wide model for the initial phased re-opening of schools. However, Northamptonshire County Council will support schools to work towards gradually increasing pupil numbers at a pace their individual circumstances allow.

“I would like to reassure our residents that the most important factor for us is the safety and wellbeing of our children, teaching and support staff, and the wider community including parents, grandparents and carers.”