Call for secondaries to delay return until 18 January

Teaching online until the third week of January would be the 'right thing to do', says NEU leader
20th December 2020, 11:22am
Claudia Civinini

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Call for secondaries to delay return until 18 January

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/call-secondaries-delay-return-until-18-january
Coronavirus: The Neu Teaching Union Has Called For Secondary Schools To Keep Learning Online Until 18 January

Secondary schools should teach remotely until 18 January, a joint secretary of the NEU teaching union has said.

Kevin Courtney's call comes as large swathes of the country have been put under Tier 4 restrictions for the Christmas holidays and the latest data from the Office of National Statistics has shown that infections among secondary-age children are far higher than for any other age group.

Mr Courtney said, as reported by the Sunday Times: "Delaying secondary school opening until 18 January would be the right thing to do."


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"The latest figures show that the highest rates of infection are now among secondary schoolchildren."

The government has already announced that the start of term in January will be staggered in secondary schools to allow for the roll-out of mass testing.

Coronavirus and schools: Headteachers 'in an impossible situation'

The announcement came after tension mounted between the Department for Education and three London councils that advised schools to close early before Christmas amid rising Covid infections.

In Scotland, schools will not return fully until at least Monday 18 January.

But shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy was less enthusiastic about delaying the start of term when asked on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show this morning.

She said that headteachers were being "tripped up" by the government, but remained "determined" to return pupils to school safely as soon as possible.

"We want the government to get mass testing into schools - we've been asking for that for a month and we haven't seen much progress on that," she said.

"Children need to be in school. If we don't have plans to get children safely back into school then some children will live with the consequences of that for the rest of their lives."

Ms Nandy said some children had missed up to 10 out of the past 13 weeks of education due to "continued bouts of self-isolation".

She added that headteachers had been put in an "impossible situation", but that many remained "determined" to get their schools reopened.

"They just wish that they had a government that was working with them rather than, as it feels like at the moment, like the government is tripping them up at every turn."

After the ONS statistics were published on Friday, Mr Courtney said: "This shows just how irresponsible it was for the government to refuse to allow schools in areas of high prevalence of coronavirus to move to online teaching in the last week of term. We fear that many vulnerable people will be infected with coronavirus as a result this Christmas.

"Next term, the government will need to match their rhetoric with resources and imagination to get coronavirus under control in schools and to break the chains of transmission in schools."

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