Great Britain

One in four teachers expected to stay at home as schools reopen after lockdown tomorrow – along with half of pupils

ONE in four teachers will only be able to work from home when schools reopen after lockdown tomorrow - while classrooms will only be half full.

A study found many school staff, including teachers and classrooms assistants, would not be able to return to work this week.

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Some teachers have health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, or live with a vulnerable family member, such as a pregnant wife or girlfriend.

Others are at a higher risk because of their age.

The National Foundation for Educational Research study has prompted fears that shortages will affect schools' ability to provide the same level of teaching quality.

The report, based on a survey of more than 1,200 senior leaders in schools in England, suggests heads are expecting nearly half (46 per cent) of families to keep their kids at home.

It finds school leaders with the highest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals estimate that more of their families (50 per cent) will keep pupils at home, compared with an average estimate of 42 per cent from school leaders with the lowest proportion of free-meal pupils.

It raises concerns that pupils in most need of education "will be least likely to receive it".

Of the 20 lowest-ranked councils for primary school test results, 11 have either advised schools to remain shut or are expecting some or all not to open.

Meanwhile a poll conducted by the National Association of Head Teachers found that nine out of ten members intended to open their schools tomorrow.

Most school leaders said they will take a flexible approach using rotas and a smaller number of year groups.

On Saturday, NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said school leaders had worked "tirelessly" in recent weeks to put in place safety arrangements for pupils, staff and parents.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson announced the Government's five key tests required for the easing of the lockdown have been met - and schools will admit more pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from Monday.

Secondary schools will also start offering face-to-face contact from June 15, the Prime Minister said.

The decision came after teaching unions and council leaders spoke out about safety concerns.

Schools, colleges and nurseries closed more than nine weeks ago due to the Covid-19 outbreak, remaining open only for vulnerable youngsters and the children of key workers.

An education union yesterday urged the government to "draw back" from reopening schools tomorrow.

National Education Union joint general secretaries Kevin Courtney and Dr Mary Bousted spoke out after four members of the Government's Sage scientific advisory committee expressed concerns about the pace of easing of lockdown.

Boris Johnson confirms schools will reopen on June 1

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