Private schools plan to open in the new academic year 'come what may'

Private schools plan to ignore Government advice and open in the new academic year ‘come what may’

  • Private schools plan to defy official advice and open at the new academic year 
  • Some fee-paying schools are organising their own track and trace systems
  • One governor at a leading private school said headteachers are ‘furious’ with the Government over its dithering on the issue of schools reopening 

Private schools are planning to and open at the new academic year ‘come what may’ regardless of what the Government advice is.

Some of Britain’s best-known fee-paying schools are organising their own track and trace systems – with plans to have them operational for September. 

One governor at a leading private school said headteachers are ‘furious’ with the Government over its dithering on the issue of schools reopening. 

He told the Telegraph schools ‘could have legally and safely opened this term’, adding: ‘We have had enough. 

‘We will definitely open in September using our own hygiene measures, our own risk-based assessment of social distancing and our own test and trace system.

‘There is no confidence left in the Government, given their failed promises. All schools should do the same.’

One governor at a leading private school said headteachers are ‘furious’ with the Government over its dithering on the issue of schools reopening (pictured: Education Secretary Gavin Williamson)

Chairman of the Independent Schools Council, Barnaby Lenon, has called for ministers to give headteachers the freedom to reopen from September if they think it is appropriate.

Mr Lenon, a former headmaster of Harrow School, said that the Government should rely on ‘the good judgement of heads, all of whom will have carried out risk assessments’. 

He added there was now ‘significant demand’ for more flexibility on how private schools should reopen. 

Downing Street’s schools policy has come under criticism after officials rowed back on plans to have every primary school pupil return to school before summer – and then said it would be encouraging this. 

New guidance this week said that all secondary school pupils in England could return before summer – but just for one day. 

Responding to a legal challenge about its lockdown policies, the Government recently admitted in a High Court document that it was a ‘request, not a direction’ for schools to shut down.

Chairman of the Independent Schools Council, Barnaby Lenon, has called for ministers to give headteachers the freedom to reopen from September if they think it is appropriate

Private schools plan to reference the document to convince insurers that a September reopening is safe. 

On Wednesday, MPs on the Education Select Committee will hear evidence from union chiefs on the reopening of schools.

Fears have been growing over an increasing gap in education between rich and poor amid coronavirus lockdown.

On Tuesday Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey welcomed the Government’s mooted summer catch-up programme, but pressed Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to develop a national plan for education.

This would involve schools receiving additional resources to help disadvantaged children, and public buildings being used for socially distanced teaching.

Responding to a legal challenge about its lockdown policies, the Government recently admitted in a High Court document that it was a ‘request, not a direction’ for schools to shut down (stock image)

The Government advises that schools should communicate their plans to parents once they have had a chance to work through them in detail. 

Official advice includes carrying out a risk assessment before opening to more children and young people, making sure that children and young people do not attend if they or a member of their household has symptoms of coronavirus, and promoting regular hand washing for 20 seconds with running water and soap

It is also advised that schools clean more often to get rid of the virus on frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, handrails, tabletops, play equipment and toys. 

Teachers should reduce contact through smaller classes or group sizes and altering the environment as much as possible, such as changing the layout of classrooms reducing mixing between groups through timetable changes, such as staggered break times or by introducing staggered drop-off and collection times.

Source: Read Full Article