Revealed: The school opening options DfE is considering

EXCLUSIVE: Tes has seen heads' document that shows the DfE is weighing up sending pupils to school on a rota basis

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus: The school reopening options being considered by the Department for Education

The government is considering sending pupils back to school on a rota basis and whether it should leave it up to schools to decide who should come in, Tes can reveal.

The Department for Education has set out a series of possible options on the subject of reopening schools, which were put to heads as part of a consultation ahead of today's government planning meeting with the UK's major teaching unions.

These include pupils returning on a rota basis or as part of specific year groups. There is also the question of to what extent the government should mandate who is required to be in schools.

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The department has also asked, if there were an announcement about reopening schools and a "three-week lead-in period" given, what specific actions and decisions schools and trusts would be required to take in that time.

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The news comes on the same day that the UK's largest education union revealed its five tests for reopening schools, and as Tes published survey results showing concerns over the safety of school staff.

A consultation document drawn up by the Association of School and College Leaders, and seen by Tes, states: "We shared the DfE’s questions with our 19,000 members through an online survey, sent out on Monday 27 April pm, with a deadline of 9am on Wednesday 29 April. We received just over 2,000 responses."

These questions include:

  • On the assumption that there will need to be fewer pupils in school at first, what is your preferred model for achieving this? Is it better to have all students in on a rota basis, or specific year groups?
  • How far should government mandate who should be in school and how much should schools be able to decide for themselves?
  • If there were an announcement about some kind of return for more pupils to schools and a three-week lead-in period given, what are the specific actions and decisions schools/trusts would have to take in that time?
  • What prerequisites need to be in place before schools can open further?
  • In particular, if schools were required to plan for the return of more pupils, how might social distancing be implemented, and how might this vary from school to school?
  • Are there any situations that schools might be facing that would make it impossible for them to expand their opening in three weeks (eg, contractors having gone bust), and that would necessitate a "window" of reopening (ie, between date A and date B)?

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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