Schools reopening: Academies chief demands kids put in marquees in playgrounds & 'potty' mini exams are scrapped

AN academies chief has said kids should be put in marquees in the playground with "potty" mini exams scrapped when schools reopen.

Boris Johnson has vowed to get kids back to classrooms as soon as possible, with all schools in England likely to reopen from March 8.

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Professor Neil Ferguson said this morning he feels it is “quite likely” that all schools in England will reopen in three weeks’ time.

But Steve Chalke, the head of the Oasis Academies Trust, described Number 10's plan as "impossible".  

Mr Chalke, whose trust runs 53 schools across the country, warned against sending kids back at the same time, suggesting "regional responses rather than national responses" should be considered.

He also said the reopening of primary and secondary schools should be approached differently.

The academies chief told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "In September we tried to put all the kids instantly into the same space – it's like sardines into a can.

"We need to think regionally; vaccinate staff, more space – perhaps that's phased education, rotas, marquees in playgrounds."

He also said certain exams should be scrapped, adding: "[The government should] Relieve the stress and finally announce that we aren't doing mini exams – we all know its potty. 

"Say it's going to be teachers assessment – you take the stress away and you allow the staff – who we need to respect – to work hard on this plan. 

"Announce the plan."  


Mr Chalke's comments came as Prof. Neil Ferguson, dubbed Professor Lockdown, said he had been pleasantly surprised by how infection rates were falling.

The top scientist told Good Morning Britain: “First of all I’ve been very surprised and encouraged how case numbers have been coming down in recent weeks.

“Basically cases are halving roughly every two weeks, a little bit slower than that.

“So that means an R number of about 0.8 so we have a bit of leeway.

“What’s going to happen, quite likely, as the Prime Minister’s message is schools, maybe all schools, will reopen on March 8, we’ll see."

'ENCOURAGING' SIGNS

Mr Chalke, however, is less optimistic, telling BBC Radio 4: "We're optimistic because the vaccine seems to be working, we all want to get children back…because we know all children will learn better with their peers in a classroom than at home online or whatever.

"But optimism can be born of two things – dreams and hopes or planning and preparation.

"What we don't need is a false start. 

"It's one thing to open schools – it's another thing to keep them open. 

"Dates are pulled out of thin air – March 8, after half-term, January 4, it could be Easter, it could be May."

MPs have called on Boris Johnson to extend the school day with extra classes and to carry on teaching into the summer time to help kids catch up.

And the Prime Minister has vowed to spend £1.3billion to help children try to catch up on all the classroom time they have missed out on.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sophy Ridge on the weekend "we need to wait" to see the data before deciding how schools will reopen from March 8.

The Prime Minister will outline his road map for lifting restrictions on February 22.

The blueprint is not expected to set out specific dates for unlocking — except for schools.

Mr Johnson has said: "Our children's education is our number one priority, but then working forward, getting non-essential retail open as well and then, in due course, as and when we can prudently, cautiously, of course we want to be opening hospitality as well.

"I will be trying to set out as much as I possibly can in as much detail as I can, always understanding that we have to be wary of the pattern of disease.

"We don't want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret."

 

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