United Kingdom

Summer holidays should NOT be cancelled because teachers have been working flat out

Summer holidays should not be cancelled because teachers have been working 'flat out' during lockdown, an education union chief has insisted.

Despite the loss of face-to-face lessons, Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union, said her members deserved the time off.

She said any headteachers looking to recuperate lessons, especially for those pupils going into GCSEs and A levels, should only offer voluntary clubs and activities during the school holidays.

In a broadside to government the trade union chief also slammed the government's decision to re-open schools on June 1, saying if they had waited until June 15 the infection rate could have been halved.

Her words came as a fifth of teachers are expected to stay home on Monday when Reception, Year One and Year Six pupils sit behind their desks again.

The figure was revealed by a TES survey of 5,000 school leaders.

Mary Bousted said schools should not cancel the summer holiday due to begin towards the end of July this year. But should offer voluntary activities for children

She told Sky's Sophy Ridge teachers deserved a break as they had been worked flat out

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson sought to assure parents their children would be safe at school on Monday, and said 'strict safety measures' were in place

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday from south London, Bousted said: 'No. The summer holiday shouldn't be cancelled because teachers have been working flat out to provide education for children at home.

'So what should happen is, and we do support this, to have clubs and activities on a volunteer basis for those children to meet together to socialise. 

'We don't think the emphasis should be on catch up because many of those children will need to re-socialise, re-engage and re-engage with a love of learning and be involved in creative activities which enable them to become part of a wider society again and have the desire to learn again.'

Swiping at the government's re-opening plans she said tomorrow is 'too soon' despite the costs to the education of all pupils, including the disadvantaged.

'We are not saying that schools should never be opened but we are saying that if you open schools on June 15 the rate of infection would have halved.

'We think that is safer, we think that is rational, we think that's responsible.'

Primary schools across England will reopen to children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6

Classrooms will have to operate with tables and chairs socially distanced. Above is Grove Road Primary School in Tring, Hertfordshire

What will a re-opened school look like tomorrow? 

Schools are expected to enact the following measures as they re-open on Monday for reception, year one and year six.

Parents should have heard from their children's schools about what measures they will be using.

- Ties, blazers, hats and bags may be banned on school grounds as these are rarely washed

- Pupils could be asked to wear PE kit in so they can avoid changing rooms

- Packed lunches may be required, as school canteens are not expected to start serving food 

It comes as a TES survey suggests many teachers will stay home when schools open on Monday.

They may be off because they suffer from health conditions including asthma and diabetes, live with a vulnerable family member or because they are at heightened risk due to their age.

They also found eleven out of the country's 20 worst performing councils on tests have told head teachers to keep the gates bolted.

The government plans to get Reception, Year One and Year Six pupils back to school on Monday, with an ambition to then get Year 10 and 12 back in lessons on June 15.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all pushed back their school start dates. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson sought to calm concerned parents today, writing in the Sun on Sunday that pupils will not be allowed to gather in groups larger than 15.

He also assured parents it would be safe, saying 'strict safety measures' have been put in place to protect children.

But he also warned that children's education can't 'suffer during this time' as coronavirus is expected to be with us for many months to come.

'I know full well that parents have been going the extra mile to make sure their children don't miss out during the lockdown,' he said.

'But sadly, not all children have that kind of support.

'For those who have had a particularly tough start in life, the price of not being in education will be a high one.'

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