We have a clear steer from the 257,000 parents that responded to our survey that 90% of parents do not want to see their children return to school immediately after the UK government ends lockdown. Indeed, only 7% said that they would be happy with a July return date, let alone the June restart that has been proposed for some primary school pupils.
The weight of our research and the strength of parent voice is a call to action for UK governments to listen to parents when it comes to re-opening schools, phasing children back into classrooms, and minimising the disruption to home life and the education of children. Parentkind is proud to champion the importance of parents’ opinions, and will continue to act as a voice for them on this issue.
Many parents may, for valid reasons, take the view that, despite a decision to re-open schools, they do not regard it as safe for their children or their family for them to return to the classroom. Teachers, parents and staff need to be confident that public health is the first priority in all considerations concerning how we move forward and make decisions about re-opening schools. We are pleased that the government has confirmed, in Department for Education guidance, that parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time. But a lot more work needs to be done to give parents and teachers the reassurances they seek that educational settings are safe environments for young people and adults to learn and teach. Parentkind is happy to continue to provide evidence of parent voice to the DfE for the duration of this crisis.
Parentkind continues to support the NEU's five tests proposal which outlines when the teaching union believes that schools should only re-open. The five tests that must be met are:
Test 1: Much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases
The new case count must be much lower than it is now, with a sustained downward trend, with confidence that new cases are known and counted promptly. And the government must have extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way.
Test 2: A national plan for social distancing
The government must have a national plan including parameters for both appropriate physical distancing and levels of social mixing in schools, as well as for appropriate PPE, which will be locally negotiated at school-by-school and local authority level.
Test 3: Testing, testing, testing!
Comprehensive access to regular testing for children and staff to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19.
Test 4: Whole school strategy
Protocols to be put in place to test a whole school or college when a case occurs and for isolation to be strictly followed.
Test 5: Protection for the vulnerable
Vulnerable staff, and staff who live with vulnerable people, must work from home, fulfilling their professional duties to the extent that is possible. Plans must specifically address the protection of vulnerable parents, grandparents and carers.
Here you'll find more information about our survey results.
See the government's advice: Opening schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June: guidance for parents and carers.