Ties, blazers, hats and bags are to be left at home and parents have been told to refrain from ‘nattering’ at the gates as schools prepare to unlock their doors tomorrow.
The measures – which could include asking pupils to wear PE kit all day to avoid using the changing rooms – are designed to ensure a safe re-opening that does not place children at risk of infection from coronavirus.
The chief executive of the Independent Schools Association, Neil Roskilly, explained the changes had to be made as these uniform parts tend to be less frequently washed than shirts, trousers and skirts.
Despite the loss of time, a fifth of teachers are expected to remain at home tomorrow, according to a Tes survey, owing to health issues, age and family members.
Trade union leader Mary Bousted has already poured cold water over suggestions of cancelling the summer holiday, saying staff have been working ‘flat out’ to provide online lessons during lockdown.
The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has sought to re-assure parents that ‘strict safety measures’ have been put in place ahead of the re-opening, and said it must take place because of the impact missed learning is having on children’s progress.
Boris Johnson has asked schools to return Reception, Year One and Year Six to their desks on Monday, with a view to getting Year 10 and 12 back at their desks by June 15.
There is also an ‘ambition’ to get all primary pupils back into schools by the end of June. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have said their schools will not re-open this month.
Ties, Blazers and bags are expected to be dumped from school uniform on Monday. (stock)
Many schools have asked pupils to leave ties, blazers and bags at home when they re-open on Monday. Pictured are pupils at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester
Chief executive of Independent Schools Association Neil Roskilly, left, said some parts of uniform may be banned because they are rarely cleaned. Chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, Christopher King, said some children may be asked to wear PE kits in to school
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has sought to assure parents that their pupils will not be put at risk by returning to school. He is pictured on Sky News
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph about the measures, Mr Roskilly said: ‘The difficulty is that parents love to congregate and chat at the school gates; they have their daily natter.
‘These old habits are difficult to break.’
And the chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep schools, Christopher King, said some schools are even asking kids to wear PE kits for lessons.
‘Many are fortunate to have a large site with playing fields and they are looking to incorporate some physical activity into the timetable every day,’ he said.
‘They are asking the pupils to come to school ready changed because changing rooms are problematic.’
Schools could also ask pupils to bring in packed lunches, rather than rely on the canteen, owing to the risks it is thought to pose.
Despite the lengthy closure, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union, has warned that schools should not try to claw back lost time by cancelling the summer holidays as teachers have been working ‘flat out’.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday from south London, Bousted said: ‘No. The summer holiday shouldn’t be cancelled because teachers have been working flat out to provide education for children at home.’
She said schools should instead look to supply voluntary clubs and activities to children to help them re-engage with learning.
‘We don’t think the emphasis should be on catch up,’ she said, but they should aim to foster a ‘desire to learn again’.
Mary Bousted has said that despite the lost classroom time schools should not look to cancel the summer holiday. She did say they could offer voluntary activities instead
What will a re-opened school look like tomorrow?
Schools are expected to enact the following measures as they re-open on Monday for reception, year one and year six.
Parents should have heard from their children’s schools about what measures they will be using.
– Ties, blazers, hats and bags may be banned on school grounds as these are rarely washed
– Pupils could be asked to wear PE kit in so they can avoid changing rooms
– Packed lunches may be required, as school canteens are not expected to start serving food
Swiping at the government’s re-opening plans she said tomorrow is ‘too soon’ despite the costs to the education of all pupils, including the disadvantaged.
‘We are not saying that schools should never be opened but we are saying that if you open schools on June 15 the rate of infection would have halved.
‘We think that is safer, we think that is rational, we think that’s responsible.’
She argued that the government’s five key tests for lifting the lockdown are yet to be met, and pointed to Professor Peter Horby, a member of the government’s SAGE committee, who has voiced this opinion.
And Bousted warned head teachers had been left with precious little time to prepare for a re-opening as government guidelines had been changed 41 times since they were published on May 12.
‘That’s hugely added to the stress of school leaders and teachers, because we have a government simply who they think is just making it up as it goes along’.
These plans she said, have given up on ‘social distancing in schools’ by favouring ‘cohort distancing’, where children are taught in groups of 15 by one teacher.
‘Those children live in families who from tomorrow will be able to go out and socialise with six other people,’ she said.
‘We’re asking teachers without PPE and without social distancing to go into schools, at a time when the rate of infection is still the fifth highest incidence in the world.
‘And at a time when there is not a fully functioning test, trace and isolate system in place.’
Primary schools across England will bring back Reception, Year One and Year Six pupils on Monday. However, a fifth of teachers are not expected to return
Many teachers are not expected to return on Monday, reports the Sunday Times, because they suffer from health conditions including asthma and diabetes, live with a vulnerable family member or because they are at heightened risk due to their age.
It comes as arguments continue to rage over whether the Monday opening is too early, with 11 out of the 20 worst performing councils telling headteachers to keep the gates bolted on June 1.
These schools are located in Halton, Doncaster, North Yokrshire, Portsmouth, Cornwall, Norfolk, Peterborough, Lincolnshire, Rotherham, Somerset and Worcestershire.
Writing in The Sun, Gavin Williamson sought to assure parents it would be safe this morning saying ‘strict safety measures’ have been put in place to protect children.
He also warned that children’s education can’t ‘suffer during this time’ as Covid-19 is expected to be around for many months to come.
‘I know full well that parents have been going the extra mile to make sure their children don’t miss out during the lockdown,’ he said.
‘But sadly, not all children have that kind of support.
‘For those who have had a particularly tough start in life, the price of not being in education will be a high one.’
Classrooms will have to operate with tables and chairs socially distanced, as they are at Grove Road Primary School, Tring, pictured
But at least 39 per cent of parents are expected to ignore the opening and keep their children at home.
A survey of 2,085 mothers by ORB International revealed the shocking figure, as it found many will wait until schools have been open for two weeks before sending their children back.
The UK’s biggest teaching union, the NEU, has told it’s members not to ‘engage’ with plans for a re-opening.
And the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has threatened councils with legal action should teachers who refuse to work be penalised.
A socially distanced classroom at Grove Road Primary School in Tring
Gavin Williamson: Why schools must re-open on Monday
The Education Secretary has called for schools to re-open on June 1 for pupils in Reception, Year One and Year Six.
Writing in the Sun on Sunday, he said it was essential to get children back at their desks so that their education does not suffer.
‘Every day that (disadvantaged pupils) spend out of school is another that will increase the gap between them and the rest of the class,’ he said.
‘I know full well that parents have been going the extra mile to make sure their children don’t miss out during the lockdown.
‘But sadly, not all children will have had that kind of support.’
Writing in the Daily Mail on May 14, he urged trade unions to ‘do their duty’ and get behind plans to bring children back to the classroom.
‘Of course safety comes first but we must also be aware of the potential damage to a child’s education from not getting them back in the classroom,’ he wrote.
‘It is known that the first few years of a child’s education are so important.
‘It is during this time that young students begin to develop essential skills and start to learn the basics that will have a huge bearing on how well they do later in life.’