By Leah Conway
Following the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown, schools reopen on 8 March. But how will it work?
Returning Safely to School:
All pupils can return to school on 8 March. Secondary schools are allowed to stagger the return of pupils over a week, which will allow necessary Covid tests to be taken.
Secondary school students will be able to access regular testing. Students need three covid tests in the first two weeks of returning to school. The government stated, how schools ensure testing is completed on the return to school up to their ‘discretion.’ They will also have two rapid tests for each following week to be used at home.
The Government have said that Primary school staff will have 2 rapid COVID-19 tests each week at home.
Amongst testing the Government are also encouraging face covering must be worn in secondary schools indoors. In early years and primary schools, staff are encouraged to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
Breakfast and after-school club will also reopen.
How Will Pupils Catch Up?
Pupils have missed out on much face-to-face learning over the past year.
The Government has promised £1.7 Billion to schools. The aim is to help pupils in England to catch up. However, the teachers’ union has stated that more is needed to achieve this.
£720 million of this fund would be dedicated to secondary summer schools. Offering Secondary schools the support to open up teaching in the summer if they chose to do so. Part of the support would also be expanding the National Tutoring Programme which offers one-to-one tuition.
What about Higher Education and University Students?
Courses that require essential practical teaching and learning facilities will return to university campuses in England on 8 March.
The remaining students and courses will remain online for the time being. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said the government will review the return of other students and make a decision by the end of the Easter holidays.
What about the Rest of the UK?
Other parts of the UK have had different approaches. Schools in Scotland have already started a phased reopening of schools throughout March and into the first week of April.
Wales began a phased return to school on 22 February.
Northern Ireland will begin a phased return starting on 8 March. however, some year groups will not return to school before the Easter break.
When are the Easter School Holidays?
In England, the Easter school break starts on 1 April and finishes on 16 April.
What about Teachers and School Staff?
The National Education Union has revealed responses from a survey that collected the responses of around 44,000 teachers, school leaders and support staff. They were asked about their reactions to Boris Johnson’s announcement that schools will reopen on 8 March.
Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary, revealed in a live-streamed meeting that there was a “strong agreement” that strict social distancing is not possible in schools between pupils.
Mr Courteny also revealed that only 9 per cent of respondents “strongly supported” the government’s plan for 8 March. A further 22 per cent said they “tended to support”, 9 per cent said, “neither supported nor opposed it.”
However, 30 per cent said they “tend to oppose” and 29 per cent “strongly opposed” the government’s tactics.
While 8 March stands as a milestone in the Prime Minister’s roadmap in returning pupils to schools, it should be recognised that teachers and school staff have preserved and continued to go into schools throughout the past year’s lockdowns and restrictions.
For more information on the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown, you can read our article here.