Too early to re-open schools, warn teachers

Teachers have warned it is too early to think about re-opening schools.

There are normally more than 600 pupils at The Beeches Primary in Peterborough but at the moment there's less than 20 - the children of key workers.

The head says if schools do go back, staff should be given personal protective equipment.

  • Click below for a full report from ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell.

Teachers would need PPE - warns headteacher Credit: ITV News Anglia

"Every teacher in the country is concerned about whether it's safe for schools to re-open. Is it safe for the children to be here in a situation where we don't know who has got what and what state we're in? And is it safe for my colleagues to be back at work on the frontline? What preparation have we got to put in place before that can happen?"

Tim Smith, Headteacher, The Beeches Primary School

Rowan York-Smith is a primary school teacher, from Postwick near Norwich.

She is home-schooling her own children and agrees with Mr Smith that it might be too early to even consider re-opening our schools.

The York-Smith Free School in action

"I don't think you can expect primary school age children to go back and socially distance - because they don't get it. They don't understand what two metres is and why we have to keep our distance. The older years, possibly, but I don't think you could throw schools back all together."

Rowan York-Smith

The Education Secretary says he can't give a date for when schools will re-open and that it will only happen when the Government is satisfied it's got coronavirus under control, with deaths and infections in decline.

Until then, learning is largely online - and ministers say they're investing to make sure pupils don't miss out.

Gavin Williamson: ordering laptops for disadvantaged children

"We're ordering laptops to help disadvantaged young people who sit key exams next year. We'll also provide laptops and tablets for those children with social workers and care leavers to help them stay in touch with the services they need."

Gavin Williamson, Education secretary

That could be very important with virtual classrooms now commonplace.

National online academy The Oaks launched today with the help of several teachers from the east.

The group is producing over 180 online lessons each week.

Geoff Barton is General Secretary for the Association of School and College Leaders.

He spoke to Jonathan Wills about getting secondary schools back open.