The Labour Shadow Education Secretary was questioned whether she supported efforts from education unions to oppose plans for the reopening of schools after the coronavirus pandemic. The Government faced the staunch opposition of the National Teachers’ Union (NTU) over suggestions to bring back all pupils to class in June, a plan Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was later forced to shelve. Conservative MP Gareth Davies asked Ms Green: “The new Shadow Education Secretary used her first public statement to say she looks forward to working with the unions.
“She talks about delays. Does my Right Honourable Friend know if this means she agreed with the NTU orders to not engage with the Government’s plan to get children back to school?”
As questions were to be addressed to the Education Secretary, Mr Williamson took over the response to Mr Davies: “I think what we all share, and I know that my Honourable Friend has the absolute passion as I do to see every child back in school, every school right across the country getting their full curriculum in every class.
“And I hope that those people who have occasionally tempted to block the full return of schools, those who have tried to frustrate the best efforts of headteacher will recognise it’s important we do everything all children get to enjoy their first class.”
Gavin Williamson made his announcement in the House of Commons on Thursday
School attendance will be mandatory for all students from September
New guidance on school reopening advised teachers to ensure social distancing is maintained between themselves and older pupils when class reopen fully in September.
Secondary school staff required to move between classes and year groups have also been told to maintain the two-metre social distancing rule despite the Government reducing the measure to one metre last week.
Parents have been warned full attendance and full curriculum is expected to resume in the autumn, insisting a whole site or group may have to self-isolate at home if two or more confirmed coronavirus cases are reported within 15 days of each other.
The Department of Education has however maintained school-wide closures “will not generally be necessary” if the recommended checks are implemented correctly.
New school guidance urges teachers to keep the distance with older pupils
But teachers have already expressed concerns COVID-19 could be exploited as a bullying tactic once schools reopen later in the year.
English teacher Nik Jones from County Durham reported three colleagues had been exposed to risky situations that had left them concerned about their health.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Jones said: “I know one colleague who was seriously upset when that happened to her because she’s got a young child who is very seriously ill.
“Whilst she was pretty sure that she hadn’t actually been covered in anything, she was close enough to the incident and it really rocked her.”
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Students will be urged to remain in their “year bubble” once schools reopen
Pupils in nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 have been allowed back to class on June 1, with some secondary school pupils allowed to attend meetings at school to discuss their exams next year.
Despite school reopening their doors after nearly three months of complete standstill, and reassurances risks of infection are limited among youngsters, parents have remained uncertain about sending their children back to class.
Schools will be required to have plans in place for self-isolating students, including the launch of remote learning platforms to ensure they can continue attending class from home.
Children and staff will not be asked to wear face masks while in school but pupils over the age of 11 will need to if they use public transport to travel to class.
The guidance also advises students to “sit with others from their group and remain in their class or year group ‘bubble’ wherever possible,’ if they are taking public or school transport to travel.