Summer holidays should be cancelled to help vulnerable kids catch up, former Ofsted boss says
Sir Michael Wilshaw said schools could stay open through the holidays and at weekends to get children back up to speed.
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The former schools boss urged ministers to go over the heads of hardline teaching unions and tell parents directly that it is safe for classes to reopen.
Sir Michael said the education lockdown could create a “lost generation of youngsters”.
He added: “And it is a great tragedy because our education system has made huge progress over the last few years and the results published last year show that.
“It is a great shame that this could unravel that progress.”
Downing Street wants to gradually reopen schools from June 1, starting with reception and Years 1 and 6 in primary schools.
There is growing alarm in Whitehall about the damage the shutdown may have on the life chances of the poorest kids.
But dozens of councils covering thousands of schools have rebelled and warned they will not reopen all their schools on June 1.
Sir Michael said that when England’s schools are back up and running, heads must lay on extra lessons at the weekends and in the holidays to help kids catch up.
And he did not deny suggestions some pupils heading into crunch exam studies like GCSEs and A Levels should repeat the year.
Quizzed on the options on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said: “I suggested that might have to happen for some children taking examinations.
“I suggested that might be something that is considered with year groups who are about to take examinations, Year 10 groups in secondary schools, Year 12 groups, Year 5 in primary school.
“We’ll wait and see.
“What is absolutely clear is that a lot of youngsters have lost a considerable amount of time while this lockdown has taken place.”
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Children have “regressed” during the months they have been let unable to go to school, he said.
He said: “It is the responsibility of schools and head teachers when this thing is over and lockdown ceases and they get the full school cohort in, to really show that recovery programmes are put into place.
“That might mean working with whole years and it might mean weekend work with examination students, I’m sure the head teachers will be thinking about that now.”
But he warned it is “critical” ministers persuade parents it is safe to send their kids back to class.
If families do not trust that it is safe then they will vote with their feet and keep their children away, he warned.
He said: “They will be naturally very apprehensive and worried and nervous about doing that.
“And it seems to me that the government have got a real part to play here in making sure that parents have the evidence.”
Scientists have found that teachers are at no bigger risk of catching Covid than any of the other of millions of key workers.
While evidence shows kids tend to not be badly affected by the illness even if they do catch.
The Department for Education has drawn up strict plans they say will keep kids safe when schools return.
They have capped class sizes at 15 and will put them in ‘bubbles’ and stop groups mixing with others to protect them.
But dozens of councils representing thousands of schools have warned they will rebel and stay shut after June 1, claiming they are not prepared.
And the hardline NEU teaching union has waged war on the reopening plans, issuing blood curdling warnings that lives could be put at risk.