You’re a class act
Pupils’ joy as they return to school for first time in six months
‘So ecstatic I was doing cartwheels’
THERE were beaming smiles at school gates across the country yesterday as thousands of pupils were reunited with friends for the first time in six months.
Parents spoke of their delight that their children’s education would no longer suffer and they would be freed up to make more trips into work.
Families largely appeared to defy virus fears, with many schools reporting high attendance rates. One academy chain said attendance was 94.3 per cent across its six primary schools and that the absent pupils did not stay away due to Covid-19 concerns.
Meanwhile schools in Leicester, which were among the first in the country to open last week, said attendance was above 90 per cent.
Other schools said they felt the vast majority of pupils had returned.
It is too early to tell how successful the Government’s drive to get children back into classrooms has been, with millions more pupils not due to return until later this week or next.
and many of those which opened yesterday are staggering the return of individual year groups to ensure social distancing measures are not overwhelmed early on. But school leaders signalled there were encouraging early signs. among those defying their fears at school gates yesterday was mother-of-two Kayleigh Leather, 35. She dropped off her sons Harrison, nine, and Lewis, six, at Leamington Community Primary School in Liverpool.
She said: ‘I was doing cartwheels. I was so ecstatic for the children because they have missed out so much on their education. I find it ridiculous that pubs were able to open before schools.’
emma Timson, 36, was waiting outside Orchard Mead academy in Leicester for her son Lewis, 11, at the end of the day.
She said: ‘I was quite nervous this morning, because we’ve been shielding for the past few months as I’m pregnant.
‘So I’ve been thinking about him all day. But the school had planned well, with the staggered starts and other measures like half year group bubbles, and kept parents informed, and it sounds like it has gone well.’
The positive return came after a youGov poll suggested 17 per cent of parents in england and Wales were ‘seriously considering’ keeping their children out of school over lingering virus fears.
a separate poll by Mumsnet found 46 per cent of parents were ‘ anxious’ about sending their children back to school, while 52 per cent were ‘relaxed’. a third said they may pull their children out of school if infections rise.
In a blow for education Secretary Gavin Williamson, the poll also found 58 per cent did not feel the Department for education has done enough to reassure families it is safe to send children back. Over the coming weeks ministers will be keen to avoid the drop in attendance seen in Scottish schools, where more than 100,000 pupils are absent.
Data collected from local authorities there yesterday revealed attendance is now 84.5 per cent, down from 95.8 per cent a few weeks earlier. However, only about a fifth of the absences were recorded as ‘Covid-19 related’.
Mr Williamson yesterday said he was ‘confident’ that preparations put in place would allow a ‘successful return’ for all pupils in england, adding that welcoming children back was a ‘massive milestone’.