44% of schools did not open more widely on 1 June

Variation in school openings appears to be linked to the different levels of coronavirus in regions, NEU survey shows

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus school reopenings: Two in five schools did not open to more pupils on 1 June, a NEU survey shows

More than two in five schools did not open to more pupils in any of the eligible year groups on 1 June, new research shows.

And just over one in five schools (21 per cent) opened more widely but on less than the terms expected by the prime minister, according to the NEU teaching union.

A NEU survey carried out between 31 May and 1 June shows that 44 per cent of schools did not open more widely to any of the suggested year groups on Monday.

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The weighted survey, which received 23,045 responses covering 10,953 schools, also reveals that the regional variation in school openings tracks closely with the levels of coronavirus in each area.

Coronavirus: 'Many schools intend to delay wider opening'

Just 12 per cent of schools in the North East and 8 per cent in the North West – where levels of coronavirus are currently higher – opened fully to all eligible year groups in their school.

However, this may be partially explained by the fact that some schools in the North West have two-week half-terms, while others take breaks at different times.

Other findings include:

  • 35 per cent of schools opened on 1 June on the terms expected by the prime minister.
  • By the end of this week, an additional 6 per cent of schools will have opened more widely, but more than two-thirds of them to less than the eligible set of year groups.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: "It is clear from our latest survey, marking the start of lockdown easing, that many schools intend to delay wider opening. Some are not extending their opening beyond key workers and vulnerable children this term.

"Many have delayed wider opening until later in June. Others will be opening for some but not all the age groups recommended by government. All this will make our communities safer.

"It was always reckless of Boris Johnson to set an arbitrary date and expect schools to fall in line. Heads and their staff know far more about their individual challenges than Whitehall ever will.

"As the regional variation according to coronavirus levels shows, schools are listening to the science rather than politicians.

"This disconnect should be a wake-up call for government. Not only is the safety of the government’s plan in question but also the feasibility of it and confidence of headteachers in what the prime minister requested.

"The prime minister should now act to ensure that education unions are involved in the planning of further steps, as they are in Scotland and Wales.

"The NEU and many prominent scientists, including Independent Sage, believe it would have been safer for all schools to begin the move to a wider opening in a couple of weeks from now, when the number of new cases per day should be lower and the system of testing, tracking and isolation of new cases is bedded in.

"Our survey shows that this continues to be a complex, challenging situation for schools. Heads, teachers and support staff are using their professional judgement, working with the children they teach in circumstances where official guidance has been published long after planning needs to start."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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