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 Covid-19.
The move was largely welcomed by the country, as a way of preventing the further spread of the coronavirus.
For parents, the announcement of schools closing came with some trepidation, with most facing the daily realities of homeschooling – as well as juggling jobs and household responsibilities alongside their children being home all the time – made even more difficult until grandparents can help with childcare.
For most kids in the UK, the closures 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.
But now, some schools have finally returned and reopened after over nine weeks of lockdown.
When did schools reopen in the UK?
Speaking to the nation in May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that he that the country would be moving to the second phase of the plan to ‘unlock the country’ in June.
This means that from 1st June a phased reopening of schools begun. It has been over two months since children were last in school following the coronavirus outbreak.
However, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has now confirmed that that plans for all primary schools to return for a month before the summer break have now been dropped.
He said that instead, he wanted all children back to school in September.
It comes after the news that many schools in the North-West of England have not reopened following the government’s 1st June date, with growing fears that there is a ‘challenge’ with infections in the region, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
As such, it’s thought that many in the area will not reopen until 22nd June, with some scientists reporting that the R number is creeping above one.
Which year groups are returning to school?
In an earlier address, Boris revealed that reopening is happening in stages.
It means that today, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils have returned to schools first.
The Prime Minister has explained that he knows some schools are not able to reopen today.
However, some parents it seems still remain uneasy about sending their child back to school during the midst of the pandemic. The National Foundation for Educational Research, estimates that 46% of parents will keep children at home, based on the views of 1,200 school leaders.
Other primary school years are expected to return in the coming weeks – and only after that, will 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.
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.
What is expected from parents who are still homeschooling?
Although some children have returned to school, others will still be homeschooling for a little while to come before other school years can return.
So how much is expected of parents when it comes to carrying on their child’s education?
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.”
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