Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of all UK schools from Friday 20th March, in order to help the country tackle the outbreak of coronavirus.
The move was largely welcomed by the country, as a way of preventing the further spread of the coronavirus. But as the weeks and months have passed since then, many people have started to wonder when will lockdown be lifted and when will schools reopen in the UK.
And it seems we now have a firm answer on the plans, following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Monday.
For parents, the announcement of schools closing came with some trepidation, with most now facing the daily realities of homeschooling – as well as juggling jobs and household responsibilities alongside their children now home all the time (see our tips for coping with the adjustment here). Of course, there are some exceptions – children of key workers are still permitted to go to school.
But for most kids in the UK, the closures have meant days spent at home, and missing out on socialising with friends, as well as exams, and the fun end-of-term treats, such as proms, days out, and assemblies that many little ones look forward to for months.
However, the decision has left many parents wondering… when will schools open again?
When will schools reopen in the UK?
This is what the government had to say.
When will schools reopen, according to the government?
Speaking to the nation on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that he and his team believe that they will be able to move to the second phase of the plan to ‘unlock the country’ next month.
This means that from 1st June, after half term, a phased reopening of schools should be able to begin.
In an earlier address, Boris revealed that this will happen in stages – with reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils returning first. He confirmed that this continues to be the plan earlier this week.
He has however explained that he knows some schools will not be able to reopen on this 1st June date.
The other primary school years would return after that – and only after that, would secondary school pupils return to education. The PM has said that it is likely that those in Year 10 and Year 12 would return first, given the importance of their GCSEs and A Level exams. However, no guidance has been offered on other secondary school years.
It means that for many pupils across the UK, it seems very possible that they may not return to school until the new school year, in September, at least.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed a few weeks ago that all children will not be returning to school at the same time.
He explained, “We recognise that the idea of schools all returning on day one with the full complement of pupils is not realistic or practical.”
How do teaching unions feel about schools reopening?
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) recently said the pupils who have most to gain from getting back to school are those in years 10 and 12, who are in the middle of GCSE and A-level courses, so older students should be the first to return – agreeing with the latest government advice.
Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, has stated that proper safety measures must be in place for teachers and students before they can return, though.
He said, “Schools stepped up immediately alongside other public services in response to this crisis. Not through compulsion but through a determination to play their part. Instructing school leaders and their teams to return without including them in the planning stages or sharing proper safety arrangements would be extremely reckless” (as reported by The Guardian).
How can parents deal with anxiety over uncertainty surrounding schools reopening?
Uncertainty can be a hard feeling to sit with. Leon Hady, a former headteacher and worldwide leader in E-Learning, has trained over 8,000 teachers and headteachers to qualify. Leon suggests that for those parents whose children won’t be going back on 1st June, it is important to continue with their homeschooling rhythm.
“The goal now is to get people into a rhythm of supported learning remotely and that’s much more important than whether we go back in June or September.”
Catherine Richards, Principle at advises that parents stay in frequent communication with the school. “My students are all studying GCSE, AS, A Level, BTEC and other applied qualifications so parents may be anxious about grading, university places and progression to the next year of courses,” she told GoodtoKnow. “My advice to them is to speak to staff at the institutions where children study. We can provide reassurance and all my teaching and support staff are working as normal.
“Teachers and support staff up and down the country are extremely hard working, caring and dedicated people. They want students in their classes to do their very best and will be doing everything they can to make sure this is the case,” she added.
What is expected from parents in terms of homeschooling?
As well as often juggling their own work commitments, parents have in the last two months been faced with the added obstacle of home schooling. So how much is expected of parents when it comes to carrying on their child’s education?
Leon is currently live streaming GCSE lessons every day from 9.45am until 12pm to help parents provide homeschooling for their children – straight after Joe Wicks’ PE for kids. (You can find out more about GCSE Streaming School here).
“Parents really need to understand there’s no judgement here,” Leon told us. “We’re not asking you to be teachers. My daughter finished everything that was set by the school in 40 minutes today. There’s so much that’s learnt at school that’s not about academic work; relationships, doing things together, group work, breaks and communal lunches – really there’s only a few hours of learnings.
“So for parents who are trying to recreate a whole timetable, you’re really making a rod for your back. Aim for two hour’s learning per day with no distractions; and you want to be in the situation where you never work more than 20 minutes on one thing. Sometimes it’s about building skills more than subject matter.”
A range of free educational resources have been made available to children across the UK to help parents with the task of homeschooling. There are also plenty of educational things to do with kids that can help them to keep learning skills and challenge their minds. These include free virtual tours of museums, historical sites and galleries, as well as easy yet fun science experiments for kids that you can read online and then try at home