What school will be like for your children in September
PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 07:20 30 July 2020
Pupils will face big changes to lessons, classrooms and break times when they return to school in September.
Boris Johnson has promised a full return to the classroom five days a week from the autumn term to ensure children do not lose any more school time
The Department for Education has issued expensive guidance on how every child can be brought back safely, with self-contained classes or “bubbles” - which cannot mix - being expanded.
In primary schools, the maximum size will be raised from 15 to 30 children. For secondary schools whole year groups of up to 200 pupils will be permitted to form bubbles, with social distancing optional, to enable the teaching of the full range of curriculum subjects.
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Schools have been urged to avoid contact between these groups through timetabling, separate starting, finishing, lunch and break times, and to bring in extra hygiene precautions.
Teachers will still be advised to maintain a safe distance from pupils, though the guidelines admit this will not be possible with younger children and those with complex educational needs.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, and a former headteacher in Bury St Edmunds, said the logistics of keeping apart many different ‘bubbles’ of children in a full school would be “enormously challenging”.
He said: “There just needs to be a sense of reality about what is possible. School leaders will do their best, as they always do, but this is not going to be perfect.”
The guidance will also mean:
• No big group events like school assemblies and classrooms arranged with forward facing desks.
• Attendance will be compulsory with the threat of penalty fines.
• Regular cleaning of hands, but face masks not expected for pupils or staff.
• On school transport, pupils should “sit with others from their group and remain in their class or year group ‘bubble’ wherever possible”.
If there is a positive case of coronavirus “small groups” of pupils and staff may have to self-isolate for up to 14 days, but if there are two or more confirmed cases in a two-week period, health protection teams may ask a larger numbers to self-isolate as a “precautionary measure”.
Closing an entire school “will not generally be necessary”, the guidance states. But a mobile testing unit could be dispatched to test others who may have been in contact with the pupil or member of staff.
Lessons will see greater emphasis on catch-up lost learning. Primary schools will be expected to prioritise identifying gaps and re-establish good progress in phonics and reading, increasing vocabulary, writing and maths.
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Secondary pupils should be taught a full range of subjects but with emphasis on gaps in English and maths for year 7 children. Older students will be expected to continue towards GCSEs and A-levels.
Mr Barton said: “One of the challenges facing schools will be to support children in catching up on lost learning from very different starting points. This is why there is room in the guidance to discuss with pupils and parents the possibility of dropping a GCSE subject in order to allow greater focus on other subjects.
“We are aware that this may lead to concerns that the curriculum is being narrowed for these children. However, the guidance makes clear that this would happen only in exceptional circumstances, when it is in the best interests of the pupil, and the goal at all times is to provide a broad curriculum.”
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