Coronavirus: 'Manageable' pupil numbers in school today

Heads' leader commends schools' 'superb leadership' as parents keep children at home amid the coronavirus outbreak

Catherine Lough

Coronavirus: The number of pupils in schools has been 'manageable', one union has said

Headteachers have reported that the number of pupils arriving in school in England today has been "manageable" after schools warned they had been overwhelmed by the number of requests from parents who said they were key workers.

Today, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said parents had followed advice to only send their children to school if they were key workers and could not keep them at home.

He also commended the "amazing work" that schools had done during this coronavirus pandemic. 

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There were fears that many more pupils than expected would arrive at school today despite schools being officially closed for all children apart from those whose parents are key workers or vulnerable pupils.

Yesterday, Tes compiled a list of some of the most outlandish requests from parents claiming they were key workers who needed schools to provide childcare for them, including those working as self-employed dog groomers, cheese makers and tree surgeons.

Coronavirus school closures

But Mr Barton said: “Initial feedback indicates that parents have heeded calls to use the emergency provision in schools only in the event that they are key workers who have no option available to keep their children at home.

"Schools are reporting that the number of pupils arriving is manageable. We are grateful to parents for their understanding."

Others are suggesting a similar picture with an unconfirmed report that some of the biggest academy chains have no more than 5 per cent of pupils attending.

The Department for Education has previously said that schools can ask for "simple evidence that the parent in question is a critical worker, such as their work ID badge or pay slip" if necessary.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders' union, urged employers not to take advantage of the lengthy list of key workers in order to keep their staff in work.

He said: "My appeal to companies and other employers: please do not interpret the key workers' lists liberally for your own ends.

"Do not put profit over people. School places are there for the most vulnerable and to keep truly crucial operations running."

Mr Barton also commended the "amazing work" schools had done during this time. 

“We would like to pay tribute to schools for their amazing work in organising this provision so quickly," he said.

"They have calmly gone about the business of identifying children who need places, arranging staffing cover, and providing learning resources for children who are at home. It has been an exemplary exercise in superb leadership."


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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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