Pupils’ dismay at delay in returning to school

Parents of pupils at a village school have voiced their disappointment at the news they would not be returning to their classes this week, as announced by the prime minister.
Cheshire East Council recently announced that as part of a phased return, year six pupils will return on Monday, 29th June.
However parents of pupils at Goostrey Community Primary School have written to council leader Coun Sam Corcoran saying how disappointed they are to hear that “a blanket decision” had been made.
Said the letter: “At our school, almost every pupil in year six had confirmed that they were intending to return when the date was announced by the prime minister (Boris Johnson) as Monday, 1st June.
“We are sure that this is well in excess of any national figures, and suspect it is also higher than most of the other schools in the area.
“One of the main reasons for this high number is the brilliant remote learning that our children have received from Goostrey School since March.
“The teachers have kept the children engaged and educated under very challenging conditions and we know that they want to see them back in school to enjoy their final half term of primary education.”
The letter said the parents had seen the plans proposed by head teacher Lyndsey Atkins and her team to keep the children safe, and were satisfied with the risk assessment.
“We felt fortunate that our children attend a school with a split site, and we were reassured that the year six children would have the entire junior school to themselves,” the letter said.
It went on: “We can totally appreciate that there are a huge number of factors to be considered when looking at all the schools in our area and reaching a decision.
“No amount of planning will address every scenario in this unprecedented situation. However, we feel strongly that our individual setting should be allowed to make its own decision with the full support of the parent community and a class full of children who want to return to school.”
The parents have thus asked Cheshire East to allow the Goostrey year six class to return on Monday, 15th June at the same time as reception class.
The parents said they did not believe this would expose the school children to any additional legal liability, given that the reception class were returning on the same date and the school will have had since 1st June to prepare.
“Many other local authorities are bringing back more than one year at a time, and many other schools have more than one form entry,” said the letter. “The additional two weeks would make a huge difference to their final experience at our fantastic school,” the parents said.
Coun Kathryn Flavell, Cheshire East’s cabinet member for children and families said: “We acknowledge that there will be a mixed response to the Cheshire East approach regarding our programme for meeting the government directive towards the phased wider opening of schools.
“We are aware that, while many parents are anxious about returning their child to school and will be pleased with our approach, some parents would want their children to return sooner and will be disappointed. Overall our approach has been supported by schools and parents, with only a small number of concerns. The safety of children and school staff is paramount and must be our priority.
“We understand the impact on year six pupils of a delayed return and want to support them as they move up to their secondary schools. We have to balance this with the constraints of school buildings and staffing capacity and have asked that schools should, as a minimum, offer sessions to allow pupils to say goodbye, celebrate their achievements and support them in planning for transition to year seven. We are also working with our secondary schools to explore innovative approaches to supporting children remotely with this.
“Our schools have continued to be open during this pandemic teaching vulnerable children and those of our key workers. Many schools are experiencing an increase of key worker children, which places additional pressure on the numbers from other year groups that can be accommodated. The government guidance states clearly that we must give priority to these children as well as asking primary schools to prioritise reception children ahead of other year groups.
“We are in the process of supporting schools with guidance on how they can put into place the significant measures they need to keep children and staff safe. This remains our priority and will be considered as part of our commitment to keep the Cheshire East position under review.”