The Government’s plans to fully reopen schools in September were published on Thursday morning, with the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, announcing in the House of Commons that schools will be told to offer a “broad and balanced curriculum”, with exams due to take place next summer. He also refused to back down on the issue of fines for parents whose children do not return to school.
However, teachers’ unions have warned that the Government’s guidance will be “enormously challenging” to implement, and complained that it seemed rushed and ill-thought-out.
Telegraph readers have shared their view on the Government’s proposals, as well as the teachers’ unions reaction.
Read on for the best comments from Telegraph readers on pupils returning to school in September, and share your own view in the comments section at the bottom of this article.
'So much for less red tape!'
"So much for less red tape! The government seem addicted to dictating every aspect of life.
"The problem is, it's a hard habit to break and I suspect they're enjoying telling everyone what to do a little too much."
'It's as if the government don't want to allow our children to be educated'
"It's as if the government don't want to allow our children to be educated. The system which our economy and society is based on has been destroyed.
"No exams this summer and next years exams will have to be adjusted if indeed they take place.
"The universities will have to change requirements and if there are any jobs left the employers will have to do the same.
"The country will never recover from this lockdown – our young people are our future but the system which supported this ideology has been trashed."
'The teaching profession has been severely damaged by this'
"Listening to headteachers and the unions on the TV as I type, their starting point is "we can't". They keep saying they are waiting for guidance, basically passing the buck.
"Surely a headteacher, working with staff, can work out knowing their buildings, pupils and students how best to create a positive and safe educational establishment. Instead, kids are going to arrive to corridors with hazard tape, teachers in hazmat suits and a general feeling by the teaching staff that they just don't want to be there.
"Teaching used to be vocational, for the good of developing young people. The profession has been severely damaged by this and their reputation has been decimated."
'There is no justification whatsoever for anything other than normal'
"This is beyond appalling. There is only one way for schools to open in September, and that is normally. There is no justification whatsoever for anything other than normal.
"I feel so angry reading this I feel like crying. How can children be punished in this way to protect a tiny minority of vulnerable people? It is an absolute crime."
'This will highlight how overcrowded our schools are'
"This episode will highlight how overcrowded our schools are. We pack our children like sardines into classrooms. School playing fields have been sold off leaving very small space to play in. Dining halls are not large enough, therefore secondary school kids grab a sandwich and wander around eating it, rather than sitting down.
"It’s also ironic that it is now being suggested that pupils should be spaced out, face forward, with the teacher at front. This was all standard practice years ago."
'This grotesque distortion of our youth is a step too far'
"These arrangements are horrifying. Constant hand-washing all day, no physical contact, no singing, no assemblies, being stuck in a bubble with children you don’t necessarily like, limited opportunities to make friends from a wider circle and watching staff constantly cleaning. Not to mention the development of seriously defective risk assessment skills in the next generation. This is a ready-made recipe for serious problems with mental and emotional health for millions of children for years to come.
"Given that the overwhelming majority of deaths to date have been in the over-75s, when it’s at least natural and normal to die of something, we as a society need to ask some serious questions about what we’re trying to achieve.
"Everyone’s life is valuable, but it appears we are valuing the lives of the really quite elderly over and above those of children and young adults. This is wrong. By all means keep some restrictions in place to protect the elderly, but this grotesque distortion of our youth is a step too far."
'At least assemblies will be banned'
"Schools are to avoid rush hour opening. That’s okay at the end of the school day, but at the start? Let’s assume then that school starts at 10 a.m. to be on the safe side. My school has roughly 250 children in each year plus 300 in the sixth form. If 50 per cent have school dinners as is the case now that is about 20 minutes each year just to collect food let alone eat it. That’s coming on for nearly two hours plus wipe down and clean between each year group. Say that takes a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes. Add another hour. Break times staggered, another hour. A large part of the school day will be lunch and break.
"As a teacher who taught in a school that had staggered lunch times I can tell you that if you were in the second group to go you spent lesson time trying to get students to concentrate whilst the rest of the school was running around outside!
"Keep windows open. I know lots of schools where old and dilapidated classrooms have windows that don’t open. But let’s assume they do. If the virus makes an unwelcome return in the winter kids will more likely die of the flu with the windows open.
"At least assemblies will be banned. God I hate them!"
'The mismanagement of children's education during this pandemic is reaching new heights"
"The whole mismanagement of childrens' education during this pandemic, and indeed those in further education too, is reaching new heights of absurdity.
"Closing schools was never necessary and indeed they stayed open for children of essential workers and in subsequent spin - even though contradicted by Government statements at the time - the Government claimed that other pupils could also have attended!
"Now to overcome the nonsense of social distancing in classrooms the Government states there will be year "bubbles".
"However, many families have children of different ages in different years who will mingle at home and on the way to school and therefore can infect each other and allegedly spread the virus if they catch it so what do bubbles at school actually achieve apart from appeasing the unions unless it is mere unnecessary tokenism?"
'Either schools return fully as normal or not at all'
"Once again, they have managed to make this mind boggling complex. Either schools return fully as normal or not at all.
"Just take transport. It is not possible for many to avoid the bus or train due to distance. How on earth do they get to school in their selection of bubbles? It is, as ever, ill-thought-out policy on the hoof. We have to get a grip and return to normal."