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Other options for reopening schools says education lawyer but no decision 100% right

An education lawyer has said there were "other options" for getting children back to the classroom and questioned how four and five years can be kept apart ahead of this morning's return to school.

But Graham Jones stopped short of criticising the government's move saying: "I'm not sure any decision would have been 100% right."

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Speaking to KentOnline the Whitehead Monckton director said his biggest concern remained the fact different parts of the UK were pursuing different strategies, adding: "Who is right?"

In Scotland pupils won't return until the start of August, the usual start of the academic year, and Mr Jones questioned why a similar policy was not pursued in England.

"If we had left it another month or six weeks things may have been clearer," he said.

He also questioned how you keep the youngest children apart in an era of social distancing.

Year R, 1 and 6 will go back today with the youngest among that group just four years old.

Years R, 1 and 6 will go back today Stock image
Years R, 1 and 6 will go back today Stock image

Those age groups are at their most crucial stages, with year 6 pupils at risk of starting secondary school at a disadvantage.

Mr Jones said: "How do you socially distance a reception class? You are talking about four and five year olds who are going to be boisterous at the best of times."

Classrooms will also look very different from returning youngsters, with soft furnishings, shared stationary and communal toys removed.

Before sending children into this alien world parents should make sure they are as up to speed as possible with the guidelines, Mr Jones said.

"Make sure your child knows about social distancing and washing their hands and call the school to see what measures will be in place," he added.

He stressed that the risk from returning is very low according to all scientific evidence.

Headteachers have been given the freedom to stay shut by the government as it is recognised welcoming back larger numbers of pupils while following rules may be difficult.

Children of key workers have been able to attend throughout lockdown but increased numbers and limited space will make today's step tricky for many schools.

Parents have also been told they will not be punished if they choose to keep their children away.

Boris Johnson revealed on Sunday that secondary school will begin increasing contact with pupils from June 15.

Headteacher Ryan Driver Picture: Andy Jones
Headteacher Ryan Driver Picture: Andy Jones

The county's MPs are overwhelmingly in favour of a return although recognised the issues facing teachers, Damian Green highlighted the disproportionately negative impact being away from the classroom will have on the most disadvantaged children, while Tom Tugendhat wants to see the Kent Test pushed back to be fair to Year 5s who won't be returning.

Gordon Henderson was slammed by the headteacher of his constituency primary Halfway Houses after pondering why British teachers "were unable to find a way of changing how they operate".

Ryan Driver was damning in his criticism of the MP, accusing him of being "very unsettling and somewhat bullish".

He went on to say he could to ensure the safety of his pupils or staff and that an overwhelming 65% of parents were completely against a return.

KMTV report on children going back

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