Up to 1,500 English primary schools to defy 1 June reopening plan

Up to 1,500 primary schools in England are expected to remain closed on 1 June after a rebellion by at least 18 councils forced the government to say it had no plans to sanction them. With more councils likely to join them on Wednesday, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, met union leaders to address concerns that the plan could put staff at risk and contribute to the spread of coronavirus. Downing Street said its aim was to work “in a consultative way” rather than impose penalties on schools or councils that rejected the reopening date. The Labour leader of Calderdale council, Tim Swift, said “the clear professional advice we have” is that not all of the government’s five tests for opening schools are being met. Gallery: How countries are edging out of Covid-19 lockdown (Photo Services) Even as the world continues to battle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, several countries, where the daily growth of new infections has reduced, are beginning to take tentative steps to ease lockdown measures in order to allow citizens to move freely for the first time in weeks and to revive the economy. “We all know how valuable regular attendance at school is, particularly for the most vulnerable children, and we are committed to having due regard to the guidance that has been issued by the government. However, we recognise that for some schools, opening to more pupilssafely may not be possible on 1 June, while parents and guardians must also feel reassured.” Ian Courts, the leader of Solihull council, said the priority was to ensure the safety of every child and staff member. So places may only be available from the week beginning 8 June.” In Bradford, Cllr Imran Khan, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said: “Bradford council has no intention of directing schools to open on 1 June or to force parents to send their children back and we are committed to working in partnership with school leaders, families and trade unions so that they can make sure their schools are safe environments for ourchildren whenever they choose to open.” Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, Barking and Dagenham, and Redbridge – both in London – have also expressed reservations about the 1 June date. As councils contacted parents, the NASUWT teaching union warned the government it would have to do more to win the trust of teachers, after a poll of almost 30,000 members found just 5% believed it was safe for more children to return from 1 June. On Tuesday, a recording emerged of the National Education Union chief, Dr Mary Bousted, telling members that while its “negotiating positon” was that it would not engage with the 1 June plan, that could change if public support for its stance waned.