Children face being sent to DIFFERENT schools with staggered start times and a maximum of 15 pupils to a class under radical plans to reopen classrooms within weeks – if 'posturing' unions don't veto them

Young children face the daunting prospect of being sent to different schools than normal from next month as Boris Johnson plots a way to restart education after the coronavirus lockdown.
The Government wants primary pupils back for at least a month before the summer break but social distancing rules mean sweeping changes, including a maximum 15 pupils per class and staggering start and finish times, are planned.
Teaching unions last night branded the plans 'reckless' and demanded schools must stay closed until a raft of health and safety measures had been addressed - but were accused of 'posturing' and 'spoiling for a fight'.
The details of how schools will operate emerged yesterday as the Prime Minister unveiled his full 50-page 'roadmap' to get Britain out of lockdown, covering issues from families reuniting and shops reopening to sport restarting and the use of face masks in public.
The schools section of the proposals, which were unveiled to the Commons a day after Mr Johnson addressed the nation to outline them, suggested class sizes may have to halve from the current average of 30 to allow for social distancing. That led to concerns from teachers that school buildings may be too small.
Schools will also be urged to implement one-way systems throughout their buildings, leave doors open and arrange bathroom trips in such a way that the pupils in question avoid children who outside their 'bubble'.
Reception class and Years 1 and 6 will be the first children to return at the start of next month, with the years in between in July. Years 10 and 11 would also go back at the same time to help prepare for exams, if coronavirus is spreading at a slow enough rate.
A poll conducted by the national Education Union yesterday showed 85% of teachers are opposed to the Prime Minister's plans.
And head teachers have warned they have the power to refuse to reopen if they feel it is unsafe – regardless of official instructions.
However their stance drew widespread criticism. Former Tory party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: 'The unions owe the British public the responsibility of working to ensure schools open to help parents. Political posturing isn't needed at this time. The British people need the unions to co-operate with the Government and not to take inflexible positions.'
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said: 'I understand that the teachers are worried, but just to use the difficulties as bargaining power and obstructing the Government is irresponsible.
'What they should be doing is saying it is vital for the education of our children, particularly the disadvantaged, that we get the schools up and running as soon as possible – what can we do help make it happen? How can we find away a way around the evident problems?
And Tory MP Andrew Percy said: 'It was unions themselves who a few weeks ago were talking about June as a potential timeframe for reopening.
'Sadly, for some at the more radical end of the teaching unions, fighting the Government is more important than the educational welfare of our children or the science.
'The Government should only open schools in line with the scientific and medical advice... and ignore the minority in teaching unions spoiling for a fight.'
'Once the teachers are reassured by seeing that year groups can return safely. I think the various objections put in place by the unions will melt away under public pressure.' 
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union the National Association of Head Teachers, had demanded more protection for his members.
'It is an insult to dedicated professionals to expect them to do their duty equipped with no more protection than a homemade face-mask and a bar of soap,' he said.
He told members they 'retain the power along with your governing body or trust board to make decisions regarding the safety of pupils and staff based on your own individual risk assessments', Schools Week reported.
And Dr Mary Bousted, NEU joint general secretary, dismissed the timetable for reopening schools as 'reckless'.
'The incoherence in this plan has generated genuine fear. For school leaders, the lack of clarity about what is expected before, or on June 1, is simply unacceptable,' she said.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union, added: 'The UK Government's message to be responsible and to 'stay alert' will ring hollow with teachers who are still being denied access to appropriate PPE and who have been given no clear guidance about how social distancing can be practised in school settings.
'No teacher or child should be expected to go into schools until it can be demonstrated that it is safe for them to do so.'
A major sticking point between ministers and unions has been over the provisions of PPE for teachers. Official guidance states: 'Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended.'
Children will not be required to wear face masks and the government said it will publish further information on reopening safely to ensure schools can adequately prepare.
Downing Street has also confirmed yesterday that parents will not be 'penalised' or fined for keeping children out of school after lockdown.
Wales and Northern Ireland have rejected the June 1 return date, with Stormont hinting a phased return may not begin until September. 
Scotland has warned schools may remain shuttered until August and said pupils cannot be allowed back until it is 'safe to do so'. 
Westminster's blueprint said: 'Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June. 
'The Government expects children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point.'
The guidance also said it's 'ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review.' 
Prior to the new measures being released a schools' union boss accused the government of being 'irresponsible' to suggest some primary school children could return to classrooms from June 1. 
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told Sky News that Boris Johnson's proposal to begin a phased return to schools from next month 'at the earliest' is 'reckless'.
In an address last night, the prime minister said pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 would be the first to go back to classrooms as part of a staged process.
Nurseries would also be included in the initial phase and the hope is that all primary school children would return to classrooms by the summer.
He added there is an 'ambition' that secondary school students who will take exams next year - such as Year 10 and Year 12 - will get some time in classrooms before the summer break.
'At the earliest by June 1, after half term, we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages,' he said.
Mr Johnson added these were the 'first careful steps' and the timeline for reopening schools could be delayed if necessary. 
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said the government's 'determination' for all primary school students to return to school before summer is 'not currently a feasible scenario.' 
In a statement released after Mr Johnson unveiled his 'road-map', he added: 'The availability of school staff, the sheer number of pupils, and the sizes of school classrooms and corridors, combined with the need for social distancing measures, mean that the government's calculations simply don't add up.
'Based on the current trajectory it seems wildly optimistic, to the point of being irresponsible, to suggest that we will be in a position to return all primary children to school within the next seven weeks. This will give false hope to families and parents that we are further along the road to recovery than we actually are.'
Mr Whiteman added it is 'an insult to dedicated professionals to expect them to do their duty equipped with no more protection than a homemade face-mask and a bar of soap.' 
'School leaders do not want to see classrooms empty for a day longer than they need to be, he said. 'But there is not a school leader in the land who wants to risk admitting more pupils unless it is safe to do so.'     
NEU boss Mr Courtney criticised last night's proposals for Year 1 and Year 6 to retrun from June this morning, asking how teachers could possibly adhere to social distancing measures in classes of 30 or more pupils.
He added that the union has set 'five sensible tests' they believe 'need to be in place' in order for schools to reopen, including a low case count and plans for social distancing in schools.
'We want lockdown to end, we want that to happen as soon as it safely can and we are not being irresponsible,' he said. 
'We've said the case count in the country needs to be down low enough so that contact tracing can take over some of the work of social isolation but the case count is nowhere near those sorts of levels.
'We've said our second test is they need to have a plan for social distancing in schools - they've come up with nothing on that. This suggestion that reception, Year 1 and [Year 6] go back in 700 schools in the country, the infant schools, that's the big majority of children in those schools. 
'How can you possibly do social distancing when the majority of children in classes of 30 or more are back in the school, it makes no sense.'
Mr Courtney added that testing should be available for both students and teachers, alongside plans for what schools should do if a pupil or faculty member falls ill with coronavirus. 
'We've said they need a plan for if there's a case in the school, what do you then do?' he added. 'Do you close the whole class down? Do you close the whole school down?
'We've been given no science on that. How can we be planning now when they haven't given us any of those things.'
The NEU general secretary added the union had surveyed their members following the PM's address last night, and within an hour 49,000 teachers had responded with the 'vast, vast majority of them saying they think it is unsafe' to return to schools in June. 
'It's reckless, it's irresponsible. Mary [Bousted] and I wrote to the government on May 1 asking them to talk with us before making any announcement, to get the science out there where people can see it, peer reviewed, about whether this would be safe or not,' he said.
'They've just ignored that. They've ignored three letters that we've sent them about the science. We've published a report about those questions recently. They made this announcement last night with no consultation with heads or with teachers before making the announcement, it's caused great consternation.' 
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, last night slammed Mr Johnson's proposal as 'nothing short of reckless.'
She said: 'In China, children stand outside the school gates and are sprayed front and back with disinfectant, their shoes are sprayed, they wash their hands with sanitiser, they must take off their mask and replace it with a new one, and their temperature is taken remotely.'
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have slammed the advice on school openings, and said they do not intend to follow Westminster's advice.
Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams responded fiercely, saying: 'The situation for schools in Wales will not change on June 1. 
'We will continue to be guided by the very latest scientific advice and will only look to have more pupils and staff in schools when it is safe to do so. We will, of course, need to ensure that social distancing requirements can be adhered to.'
Children face being sent to DIFFERENT schools with staggered start times and a maximum of 15 pupils to a class under radical plans to reopen classrooms within weeks – if 'posturing' unions don't veto them Children face being sent to DIFFERENT schools with staggered start times and a maximum of 15 pupils to a class under radical plans to reopen classrooms within weeks – if 'posturing' unions don't veto them Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:07 Rating: 5

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