Education Secretary Gavin Williamson stood firm on plans to send back children in Reception, Year One and Year Six in a matter of weeks, saying the move is based on the “best scientific advice”.
But opposition from unions and certain councils has thrown that into doubt.
NASUWT has threatened to begin legal action if teachers are forced to return to work, while scores of councils in England say they cannot guarantee primaries will reopen on the date set by the government.
Having seen countless scenes of adults showing no regard for social distancing in the last two months and with workplaces and the House of Commons still largely empty, questions are being raised over why the government feels it safe to send kids back to school and why only particular age groups have been chosen.
According to the Secret Teacher, science has absolutely nothing to do with it.
“The government hope that, if the smallest children are in school again, thousands of people can go back to work. Small children take up such a lot of time,
“The strategy of getting them to return while many adults are still isolating reminds me of wild meerkats, where a dominant meerkat leads a group to the side of a busy road then lets a lower-ranked meerkat – a meerkat minion, if you will – cross the road first to see if it’s safe for the others.”
His comments appear to be widely shared, with one Conservative councillor also confirming that the move is quite patently in the interests of the economy over anything else.
“The plan is not to really deliver education it’s to allow an almost childcare service to help people get back to work”, they said.
Under plans being discussed at a local level parents would be invited to send their children back in a staggered approach for the initial phasing-in of the strategy.
But after that, the Secret Teacher has advised parents to glean as much information as they can about the return, and ask questions such as:
- How will the school day look if I send my child in?
- Will the school entrance, exit and classroom my child uses be the same?
- If your child often has learning support assistants to help them, or a particular adult they often check in with, what is in place for that?
- What will lunchtimes and break-times look like?
- How many children will be in a class/group?
- What happens if a child develops symptoms in school?
- If you usually use a breakfast club before school, will that care be available?
- If I choose not to send my child in, will the online learning continue for my child at home?