Headteachers will decide on the opening dates for schools in Oldham

Date published: 20 May 2020

Oldham Council say that individual headteachers will decide when and in what form their schools will open as lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

The government advice is that children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in England should be able to return to school from June 1.

But Gerard Jones, Managing Director, Children and Young People at Oldham Council, says the authority will leave the decision to the individual schools: "We're working closely with headteachers and it will depend on their individual risk assessments.

"Schools will be in different positions depending on how they've been impacted and in their own way.  We're not imposing a one-size fits all approach to the schools.

"This is a big step for schools and we'll work closely alongside them."

Mr Jones said that as lockdown eases, parents will not be obliged to send children to school if there are concerns abou their safety, and promised that parents would not be fined if they chose to keep their children at home.  In addition, the Department for Education will not be performance managing schools on attendance.

"Parents will make their own decisions, but wherever we can reassure them, we will help them.  But in the end, parents have got the final say about the safety and welfare of their children.

We think for most children this will be a good thing if we can do it safely. They really need to be back at school and back engaged.  There are also family pressures that are also rising, that this will help with."

Other local authorities have expressed concern about the government advice on primary school re-opening.  Manchester City Council said they will open schools "when it is safe to do so", meanwhile Bury Council have refused to open their schools by the June 1 target.

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