Most Solihull primary schools stay closed to pupils despite government timetable for June 1 reopening - The Solihull Observer

Most Solihull primary schools stay closed to pupils despite government timetable for June 1 reopening

Solihull Editorial 2nd Jun, 2020   0

A HANDFUL of Solihull primary schools adhered to the government’s timetable for reopening to pupils yesterday (June 1), after Solihull Council warned many were ‘not ready’ to welcome back children.

Just 15 of the 70 primary schools in Solihull reopened to year 1 and 6 pupils in line with plans put forward by the Department for Education, aiming to restart classes following the coronavirus lockdown.

On May 19, Solihull Council stated: “The council has been clear from the outset that the safety of schools for pupils, their families and the workforce is its number one priority. Only when we are convinced that schools are ready and safe would it support wider opening for more pupils.”

It indicated the council was working to a more achievable return date of June 8.

Today (June 2), council leader Coun Ian Courts said: “Despite what you may assume from the headlines, almost all of our schools have remained open throughout the lockdown for vulnerable children and children of keyworkers to attend.

“As the lockdown progressed, we were able to provide education and support to an increasing number of our most vulnerable children. I hope, as more pupils return, this will continue.

“In Solihull, 15 Primary schools (including Infant and Junior) and two special schools welcomed additional pupils from the eligible age groups yesterday, on top of those who have continued to attend throughout the lockdown. From next Monday, we are expecting the remaining primary schools to open to more pupils. Our secondary schools are planning to open for years 10 and 12 from 15 June.

“Throughout the discussions with schools, governors and teachers, our priority has been the safety of pupils and staff. Risk assessments have been carried out. All our efforts have been focused on reassuring parents and staff, that schools can allow more pupils in safely. It means schools will be very different places; pupils and parents will have to acclimatise to new safety measures.

“We always knew it would take time to work through the necessary safety issues with schools and their leadership teams; we envisaged a phased return, rather than a ‘big bang’. This precautionary approach will, we hope, encourage parents to have the confidence in their schools to send their children back.”

One headteacher, Andy Tunstall at Yorkswood primary school in Kingshurst Way, said: “Solihull provided a somewhat more sensible date for next week, they have provided good guidance as has the government with issuing safety plans.

“It has been a challenge to get hold of things like enough sanitisers, but we are getting there and ticking away. The council acted quite early in putting out a comprehensive risk assessment.

“Parents are still very much in the two camps, some are voting with their feet, but there are no consequences if your child is not attending at the moment.

“Personal circumstances impinge on parents’ decisions and some are having to take the decision they might not want to make.

“The council has supported us to focus on a core curriculum but our focus is to support the children emotionally. The children of key workers are quite comfortable with it, but as the others come back they will have induction sessions so they are familiar with social distancing.”


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