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‘Teachers aren’t being lazy’ - education group letter to parents defends school reopening approach

PUBLISHED: 08:29 28 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:47 28 May 2020

More primary school pupils will return to school from June 1. Picture: Getty Images

More primary school pupils will return to school from June 1. Picture: Getty Images

Getty Images

A group representing school leaders in Norfolk has penned an open letter to parents dispelling rhetoric that teachers are blocking school reopenings and urging them to trust headteachers.

Educate Norfolk has released its letter ahead of primary schools reopening to more pupils after the half-term holidays.

The body, which represents Norfolk school leaders at both primary and secondary level, including headteachers and chief executives, said criticism of teachers had been unhelpful in the debate over whether schools were safe for more pupils.

It added: “At such a time, it is easy to paint an ‘us and them’ narrative. This is both inaccurate and unhelpful.

Jim Adams, co-chair of Educate Norfolk which last week wrote an open letter to parents ahead of schools opening to more pupils. Picture: Nick ButcherJim Adams, co-chair of Educate Norfolk which last week wrote an open letter to parents ahead of schools opening to more pupils. Picture: Nick Butcher

“All stakeholders will have slightly different priorities. Headteachers have the unenviable task of trying to pull all of those well-meaning people together. Please, trust them to do that.”

MORE: ‘Part-time education for some time’ - headteachers discuss school reopenings

Jim Adams, co-chair of Educate Norfolk, said it had decided to write to parents after becoming concerned about coverage.

He said: “We are just a bit worried that there seemed to be quite a lot of narrative about teachers being lazy and not wanting to go into work and unions being difficult. Basically the education system trying to resist opening schools more fully, which is just not the case at all.

“So we thought we would do an open letter to parents saying that we are more than happy to open schools.”

Earlier this month the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said the government and teachers’ unions should “stop squabbling and agree a plan” to reopen schools safely amid criticism of the government’s plans.

In its letter Educate Norfolk states: “All those who work in schools are committed to opening them more fully. We need to get young people back into the classroom.

Social distancing measures will be introduced for children returning to the classroom. Picture: Jacob King/PA WireSocial distancing measures will be introduced for children returning to the classroom. Picture: Jacob King/PA Wire

“But, we can only do this when it is safe to do so. This requires a cautious, considered and sensible approach.”

MORE: Secondary schools to only open to quarter of year 10 and 12 pupils at one time

Reception classes and years one and six pupils will begin to return to school from June 1, while years 10 and 12 students will start ‘face to face’ lessons in secondary schools from June 15.

The letter points out that most schools have remained open to vulnerable and key worker children throughout the lockdown, and have been providing remote learning and pastoral support for pupils at home.

It adds: “As we enter the next stage, I am sure you will have many questions and concerns. Headteachers have put thoughtful and well considered plans and risk assessments in place. These put the safety of children, staff and the wider community absolutely front and centre.”


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