Croydon council wants to let individual primary schools decide whether to return on June 1

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

Croydon council leader Tony Newman said it would be down to individual schools to decide whether they will open to more pupils on June 1.

But he stressed teachers would not be forced to return to school if they were not comfortable with it.

There are a total of 88 primary schools in the borough which are all working out plans on how – and if – more pupils can return to school.

The Government is asking schools to reopen for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6

Cllr Newman said: “Each of these schools is doing a safety plan which in many cases gets you down to class sizes between seven and 15 children.

“It is looking like if you were one of the new people you wouldn’t go to school more than two days a week.

“From national figures and polling they don’t think that 30 per cent of parents will send their children back.

“The council position emphatically would be that any staff who didn’t want to go back wouldn’t have to.

“In terms of pupils the government has already changed the national legislation that nobody is going to make any children attend.”

The debate about whether primary schools should start to repoen to more pupils is taking place across the county.

But some staff have been in schools throughout the lockdown looking after the children of key workers and vulnerable children while other teachers have been working from home to provide lessons for children.

Cllr Newman said that he was proud of all staff who have had to continue working hard throughout the lockdown.

And the council leader said that he backed a call from the National Education Union (NEU) for five tests to be met before schools do reopen.

These are: much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases, a national plan for social distancing, access to testing for children and staff, whole school testing if a case occurs and protection for the vulnerable.

Joseph Flynn, secretary of the Croydon NEU, said he did not think that it would be safe enough for primary schools to partially reopen by the start of next month.

He said: “I’ve got a lot of sympathy for headteachers, they don’t want to be in this position, nobody thought the youngest children would be going back.

“A lot of headteachers aren’t happy about it and are thinking hard about how it could possibly work.”


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