THE TORY government has launched a three-pronged attack on parents, teachers and councils in a bid to force schools to open – despite all three warning that it is unsafe to do so.
Tory Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has refused to rule out taking councils to court over their refusal to reopen schools next month.
When pushed by BBC1’s Breakfast programme he refused to rule out legal action.
‘We are working with them to try and ensure it doesn’t come to that … we really hope it doesn’t have to come to that,’ he said, and when pressed again he still would not rule it out.
Liverpool City Council has defied government calls for pupils to return to classrooms from June 1st.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said earlier this week that the city will ‘resist’ the call to reopen schools on June 1st, following PM Boris Johnson’s announcement that he wants Reception, Year One and Year Six pupils to go back after the May half term break.
Anderson said: ‘We are concerned. We have a safeguarding responsibility for our children, our staff, and teachers in the schools. We are concerned about allowing children back into school who could either get the virus themselves or spread the virus.’
The teachers unions oppose the June 1st reopening plan.
Shortly after the death of a pupil in a special needs school in Waltham Forest, a meeting of Brent union reps advised members that schools should not reopen.
38 union reps and safety reps from schools around Brent met with their regional officials and branch secretaries prior to the proposed wider reopening of schools.
Members were told ‘The National Education Union’s Five Tests have not been met and therefore it’s not safe yet’.
Jenny Cooper, NEU District Secretary, said: ‘The BMA (British Medical Association) backs us, many parents back us and other unions back us.
‘It’s not that we’re militant for the sake of it; this is a life and death issue’.
She then went on to share the news of the death of a pupil in Walthamstow and the sad news that in one street in Brent 28 people died of coronavirus.
‘Eight Brent schools were named which will not be reopening on June 1st. Reps will be returning to their members in schools, teachers and support staff, to pass on the message that their union advises them not to participate in a wider reopening yet.’
- The NASUWT teachers’ union yesterday called on the Secretary of State for Education to provide the evidence and information to justify the decision to start to reopen schools from June 1st and warned that teachers remain far from convinced that reopening can be safely or practicably achieved by this date.
In a letter to Gavin Williamson, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach underlined the NASUWT’s continued commitment to working with ministers over the plans for schools, but called for further urgent work by the government to win the trust and confidence of the profession in meeting its aim of starting to reopen schools from June 1st.
Dr Roach called on the government to provide the scientific evidence and modelling it has relied on in making its decision over school reopening, to work with the NASUWT to strengthen the guidance for schools, and to confirm the actions it will take to monitor and review schools’ compliance on effective safety measures for staff and pupils.
Meanwhile, parents who refuse to allow their children to return to school will be penalised. The government has announced a scaling back of on-line teaching.
The government has asked schools to prepare to ‘welcome back pupils in Reception, Year One and Year Six from June 1st,’
Ministers say the ‘ambition’ is for the rest of primary schools to return by the end of next month, with most secondary pupils not expected to be back in the classroom until September.