Schools should consider opening “in some form” over the six-week summer holidays to help children catch up with the curriculum, according to children’s commissioner Anne Longfield.
Ms Longfield said this could also help to provide vital childcare as parents try to get incomes back and return to work.
As reported in today’s Observer, Ms Longfield said: “It would be really valuable, if the scientific advice says they can, to have schools consider opening in some form over the summer holidays to help children learn and catch up but also to offer them a safe place to play and socialise with friends.
"It would also provide vital childcare for families who need to get their incomes back up as they, hopefully, return to work.”
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Ms Longfield said schools could bring in play, sports and youth workers to help supervise pupils.
She added: “Whether they are open to all or not, schools do have a really important role, especially for vulnerable children over the coming months.”
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However, the NEU teaching union has issued advice to its independent school members saying it had “major practical and contractual concerns” about such plans.
And parents have warned that opening schools over the summer could cause “more disruption”.
Margaret Morrissey, founder of the pressure group Parents Outloud, said: “At the moment schools are open and providing online work.
"After this is over, we all, including children, need real holidays. Cancelling the summer holidays will cause more confusion and disruption. We should aim for term starting in the first week in September and life going back to normal.”
Meanwhile, plans are being “discussed” in government to open schools at the end of May to admit the children of dentists, plumbers and general shop workers, as ministers expand the list of key workers, according to The Sunday Times.
The newspaper reports that, as ministers ease the lockdown by letting more sectors go back to work, younger teachers likely to be less at risk from the virus could be brought back into classrooms.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, is quoted as saying: “When the decision to cancel exams was made, it was thought that the peak of hospital cases would be in mid-May. It now looks as though the pandemic is at its height. That opens a window for schools to reopen before the summer holidays. That will not be before the May half-term, so we are looking at around 1 June.”
Denmark is said to be among the first European countries aiming to put its lockdown into gradual reverse as it plans to reopen schools on Wednesday for children aged 11 and younger. Schools have been closed for a month in Denmark, which was one of the first countries to impose restrictions.