Kingston Council criticise government over school returns

Kingston Council has slammed the government’s decision to only allow specific London boroughs to delay primary school reopenings next week.

The borough was not listed by the government in Wednesday’s announcement (December 30), meaning pupils are expected to return to primary schools as normal next week.

But the decision was slammed as “baffling” by the council, while other boroughs across London which were excluded from the list have also heavily criticised the decision.

Many of the boroughs ordered to delay their reopenings have lower rates of coronavirus infection than those not included on the list – some significantly so.

In a statement published on Thursday, a council spokesman said: “Kingston’s headteachers and the local authority – along with fellow London boroughs – were not consulted about the decision before it was made.

Surrey Comet: Update on schools returning after the Christmas break

“This means that schools in surrounding boroughs remain closed for the majority of children even though they have lower Covid infection rates.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “urgently seeking clarification as to why schools in some London boroughs have been chosen to stay open” while others “just down the road won’t”.

Leader of Kingston Council, Caroline Kerr, said: “The decision about which schools open or close appears to be based on a limited window of time which doesn’t represent the true picture of infection risk in Kingston. It doesn’t make any sense.

“We know that parents are worried and want to understand this – so do we. We are urgently seeking clarity on the reasoning for the decision to open Kingston’s schools and want to be able to input local knowledge to make sure the potential impact of the decision is clear.

“Kingston’s headteachers know their schools better than anyone else and we will fully support them as they make plans for the next few weeks and the start of the school term.”

Surrey Comet:

Education secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement on Wednesday

The current situation is that primary schools in Kingston upon Thames will reopen to all pupils on 4 January 2021.

In the borough’s special schools all pupils in all year groups return to face-to-face learning in schools from 4 January 2021.

The current plan for secondary schools is as follows:

Week beginning 4 January 2021

  • Schools open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children
  • Years 11 and 13 only receive remote learning
  • All pupils in other year groups will not be at school or receiving remote learning
  • Schools use this week to prepare their testing programmes
  • School testing may be possible in some schools for pupils during this week

Week beginning 11 January 2021

  • Testing starts in priority year groups (starting with Years 11 and 13 if not already tested)
  • Pupils in Years 11 and 13 return to face-to-face learning
  • All remaining year groups receive remote learning

Week beginning 18 January 2021

  • Testing continues
  • All pupils can return to face-to-face learning

Surrey Comet | Kingston