Education Minister Gavin Williamson abandoned plans to return all primary school children to England for a month before the summer vacation.
Confirming the decision, he told MEPs that he wanted all the children to go back to school in September and that “the exams will take place next year”.
Rebecca Long-Bailey of Labor said she was “deeply dismayed” by the way the student repatriation plans had been managed.
School leaders said the plan had never been a practical possibility.
The secretary of education told the House of Commons that there was a “careful and gradual return” to school – but that would no longer mean that all elementary groups would return before the end of the term.
Williamson said if schools had the capacity, they could accommodate more students if they wanted to.
Levels A and GCSE were canceled this year by the pandemic – but he said exams will continue in 2021.
The Education Ministry released figures showing that about half of the primary schools opened for additional pupils last week – and Williamson told MEPs that the percentage had increased to 70% this week.
But ghost education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the plan to bring back all the elementary students had never been possible with social distancing – and she accused Mr. Williamson of not having listened to advice from the teaching profession.
“For weeks, school principals, education unions, school staff and many parents have warned that plans to open entire primary schools before the summer are simply unattainable,” he said. she declared.
The workers’ education spokeswoman warned that the government was not taking action to help children make up for the lessons they missed.
“I believe that a crisis in education and the level of success and well-being of children could happen to us incredibly quickly if we do not intervene and mitigate it now,” said Ms. Long-Bailey to deputies.
About a quarter of primary school students have taken their places
Primary school students in England at reception, years 1 and 6 started going back to school last week – and the Department of Education has released the first official figures showing the number of participants, based on June 4.
This was in addition to the children of key workers and vulnerable children who may have continued to go to school during the lockout.
Turnout figures show that about three-quarters of those who could have returned to school were still at home, showing that almost half of the schools were not open to additional students.
- 52% of primary schools open for additional pupils
- 11% of elementary students were in school – about a quarter of the age groups who could have returned
- 659,000 children were enrolled in all schools, including children of key workers, almost 7% who normally attended school, compared to 2.6% before midterm
Several weeks ago, school heads warned that it was not a realistic possibility to accommodate all primary groups at the same time, as social distancing limited their capacity.
Class sizes are now 15 students or less – so if each class occupied two classrooms, principals argued that they would not have space for all groups of the year.
“The ambition to bring back all the elementary school groups for a month before the end of the summer term was a case where the government had promised something that was not deliverable,” said Geoff Barton, chief of chiefs of ASCL establishment. union.
“It is not possible to do this while maintaining small classes and social bubbles,” he said.
However, the practicalities can be explained – and it is true that the government has always said that the return was an ambition, not a firm plan – the retirement of the full return seems untidy and gives the impression to millions of families that Downing Street did not deliver what they promised.
There is a reluctant feeling in government that they were damned if they set a timetable which they then failed to follow, and damned if they continued to leave the country’s diaries blank for months.
Remember, for several weeks, opposition politicians asked number 10 to give their exit strategy as soon as possible.
When it was published, documents and speeches were filled with “if” and “but”.
But there is a curious feeling of helplessness about all of this.
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The announcement means that many primary school children, outside of the reception, in years 1 and 6, will not be back in school until September.
Apart from some lessons for years 10 and 12 from June 15, secondary schools will not be back until September – and the England’s Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, said the prospect was “deeply disturbing”.
“This is a disruption that we have not seen since World War II,” she said, warning that “the education gap is widening” and “nearly a decade of catching up with this educational gap may well be lost. ”
Robert Halfon, chairman of the select education committee, called for a national strategic plan to open schools as soon as possible. He also warned that with school closings, the majority of students will lose 40% of their class time this year.
Parents’ opinions are mixed
Jonathan Wills, a parent of Barnton Primary in Northwich, Cheshire, said that families need to pick up some sort of routine – and it was a long time before schools started until fall.
“I think it’s going to be extremely difficult for children and some families, because it takes a long time to try to recreate the structure that schools offer you.
“I think the kids who struggled before will do it even more now. “
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But the mother of a child, Molly, told the BBC that she was relieved that all of the elementary years did not come back this quarter because she would not have been ready to send her daughter back to school.
“Until it is safe for Parliament to sit next to each other and until it is” safe “to cuddle your own birth mother, then how is it deemed safe to mix your children with many other households?
“But our children can be placed in school with the children of many other households. Even in small groups of 15, how safe is it? When are we only allowed to meet in groups of six? “
“I think we are a strange country in which we turn a blind eye to the mass demonstrations everywhere in each city, we campaign for the opening of pubs and cafes and yet we say that the opening of schools before September is too risky, “said Halfon. .
Wales schools will reopen from 29 June for all age groups for limited periods during the week, while Scottish schools are scheduled to reopen at the start of the autumn term on 11 August, with a some home learning.
Some pupils from Northern Ireland who are preparing for exams and those about to move on to post-primary schools will return in late August, with a gradual return for the rest in September. The United Kingdom recorded its smallest increase daily number of deaths from coronavirus since before locking on March 23, according to the latest government figures.
At 5:00 p.m. Sunday, 55 people died after being tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 40,597.
There are generally fewer deaths reported on Monday – due to late reporting this weekend.
The figures came as a study estimated that the blockages had saved more than three million lives of the coronavirus in Europe.
Researchers at Imperial College London have used computer models to predict the spread of the virus if no restrictions had been put in place in 11 European countries, finding that the “death toll would have been huge” without locking in.
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In the UK, the lockout prevented 470,000 deaths until May 4, the study found.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), less than a fifth of deaths recorded in England and Wales in the last week of May involved Covid-19 – the lowest proportion since the start of the isolation.
There were 9,824 deaths recorded this week – less than the previous week, but still 1,653 more deaths than would be expected, the ONS said. Of these, 1,822 involved the virus.