Nearly nine in 10 primary schools in England have reopened to more children since lockdown


Nearly nine in 10 primary schools in England have reopened their doors to more children since lockdown but just a third of eligible pupils in some year groups are back in class, figures show.

Almost three quarters of secondary schools welcomed back more students in Years 10 or 12 on June 25, the second week that the Government said ‘face-to-face’ support should be offered.

Approximately 89 per cent of schools that usually have children in nursery, Reception, Year 1 or Year 6 were open to at least one of these year groups on June 25, up from 78 per cent  on June 18.

But only a third of pupils in Year 1 attended school on June 25, up from 26 per cent on June 18, and 36 per cent in Reception, up from 29 per cent, despite opening more widely to pupils at the start of the month.

Attendance continues to be highest among Year 6 pupils, with around two in five of all children in attendance on June 25, up from 34 per cent.

Pictured: Social distancing measures are seen as a child studies on a marked table at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said parents in England could be fined if they do not send their children back to school in September

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said parents in England could be fined if they do not send their children back to school in September

Only a fifth of pupils who usually attend early years settings in term-time attended on June 25 despite reopening on June 1, the Department for Education statistics show.

The latest figures come after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said parents in England could be fined if they do not send their children back to school in September.

Mr Williamson said a return to school will be ‘compulsory’ and families may face financial penalties if they keep their children at home unless there is a ‘good reason’ for the absence.

The DfE analysis estimates that nearly three in four secondary schools, excluding Further Education colleges and special post-16 institutions, were open to pupils in Years 10 or 12 on June 25, up from 60 per cent on June 18.

Government guidance currently says secondary schools and colleges should have no more than a quarter of their Year 10 and 12 cohort in attendance at any one time.

Approximately 13 per cent of Year 10 and Year 12 students were in attendance on June 18, excluding students in further education colleges and special post-16 institutions, the analysis shows.

Overall, an estimated 1,483,000 pupils attended schools and colleges on June 25, representing 15.6 per cent of pupils who normally attend and more than nine in 10 of schools and colleges in England were open in some capacity last week, which is a slight rise on the previous week.

en-Y-Dre High School welcomes back its students after three months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic on June 29

en-Y-Dre High School welcomes back its students after three months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic on June 29

Schools, colleges and nurseries closed more than 14 weeks ago due to the Covid-19 outbreak, remaining open only for vulnerable youngsters and the children of key workers.

A detailed plan on how the Government will ensure that all children in England are back in the classroom in the autumn is expected by the end of this week.

It was reported last night how secondary schools could teach a slimmed-down curriculum focusing on English and maths to allow students time to catch up when classes restart in September.

Pupils taking their GCSEs may even need to drop subjects entirely so they can focus on the core classes, according to draft proposals seen by the Huffington Post. 

Some Year 7 students may be retaught parts of the English and maths syllabus from their final year of primary after their study was disrupted by coronavirus lockdown, reports said. 

Teacher Claire Juniper teaches maths to Year Six students inside a socially distanced classroom setting in a tent outside of Llanishen Fach Primary School in Cardiff

Teacher Claire Juniper teaches maths to Year Six students inside a socially distanced classroom setting in a tent outside of Llanishen Fach Primary School in Cardiff

The Government’s plans to safely reopen classrooms in September could also see schools in England isolate up to 240 secondary pupils in ‘year bubbles’ to limit the number of interactions with pupils of other ages.  

It has been suggested that all children in a year group would be sent home to self-isolate for two weeks if one classmate in their ‘bubble’ tests positive for coronavirus.  

On the latest figures, Mr Williamson said: ‘Each week the number of children returning to school has increased.

‘Last week, 1.5 million pupils were back with their friends and teachers at schools and colleges, more than double the number at the beginning of the month.

‘As we approach the summer holidays, I want to see as many children and young people as possible return to classrooms, and would encourage families to take up the opportunity of a school place if they are able to, ahead of a full return for all pupils in September.’ 

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