'Confusion and chaos': Redbridge put on closed schools list after initial mishap

S5 and S6 pupils at St Columba's High School in Gourock, Inverclyde, wear protective face masks duri

Parents and leaders have expressed outrage at the confusion after Redbridge was mistakenly left off the government's closed schools list when it was first published. - Credit: PA

Leaders in Redbridge have called the government's announcement yesterday of the delayed schools opening list a "shambles" after the borough was initially left off it by mistake and then added back on.

A list of the 50 areas where primary schools will not open as planned to all pupils next week was published by the Department for Education (DfE) yesterday and initially Redbridge was left off the list despite having the seventh highest Covid-19 case rate in England.

Council leader Jas Athwal wrote a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson asking why it was left off the list and wondered if it was "a gross oversight".

One parent said schools groups on social media were "ablaze on the topic" and said the decision to close secondary schools and keep primary schools open was the definition of an oxymoron.

Later the DfE sent out a revised list which had Redbridge on the closed schools list.

Ilford North MP and Labour’s shadow minister for schools Wes Streeting tweeted: "We have a situation where lists are being updated only minutes after publication. This is an utter shambles. I’m so sorry to parents and staff affected by government incompetence."

The infection rate in Redbridge is currently more than 1,100 per 100,000 people - a figure that has trebled since the start of December and area hospitals have been under "significant pressure.".

Cllr Athwal said the government's messaging had been "dismal" and he tweeted out a guide showing the current start dates for schools across the borough.


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Starting Monday, January 4 the only children who will be expected to attend school will be early years and the children of key workers.

Exam year secondary pupils in Years 11 and 13 will return the following week starting January 11.

All other primary and secondary students are provisionally set to return to school on January 18 but that date could be revised. 

A spokesperson for the DfE said Redbridge was inadvertently missed off the initial list and was subsequently added on to the list of closures.