Coronavirus: Redbridge parents and teachers share thoughts on school reopening plans

Children will have to follow social distancing measures in school. Picture: Jacob King/PA

Children will have to follow social distancing measures in school. Picture: Jacob King/PA - Credit: PA

Pupils should not return to school this academic year.

That’s the verdict of almost 90 per cent per cent of Redbridge residents - the majority being parents and teachers - who completed our survey.

More than six in 10 - 63.64pc - said they thought it would be safe for pupils to return in September, with an additional 25.45pc saying children should only go back to the classroom once a vaccination for the coronavirus vaccine has been found.

Just 6.36pc are in favour of following the government’s plan for some primary school pupils - those in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 - to go back as early as June 1. The remainder thought July was a suitable start date.

The survey, carried out by the Recorder and its sister titles in east London, saw more than 900 people share their opinions on issues surrounding when pupils should return to school, how easy home-schooling was and if universities should accept students who have not set exams due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of these, 200 identified as being from Redbridge.

There was a lower proportion of Redbridge residents favouring a June or July start date - 10.36pc - than the London-wide average of 12.33pc.

Meanwhile, 25pc of respondents from Redbridge said that universities should not accept first year students who have not sat exams, with this summer’s sitting cancelled to halt the spread of coronavirus. This is slightly higher than the east London-wide average of 24pc.

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Pupils who were due to sit exams including A-levels and GCSE this summer will instead receive a calculated grade, with teachers asked to submit a judgement on what they feel each pupil would have achieved had the exams gone ahead, taking into account factors such as mock tests, classwork and homework.

The government has said that those due to sit exams this summer may also sit an exam early in the next academic year if they wish to do so, or in the summer of 2021.

Many of those to respond to our survey also offered their thoughts on the issue.

One parent said they asked their son how he would feel about going back to school next month, adding: “He answered that he would be very scared and it’s not safe and that is coming from a seven-year-old.”

Schools have been closed since March to all except the children of key workers and those considered most vulnerable, with the vast majority of pupils having to learn at home.

Of those who responded to our survey, 32pc graded home schooling as a three out of five in terms of how difficult they were finding it. That was lower with the east London-wide average of 35.3pc.

A parent and teacher from Ilford said: “Home schooling is not ideal but the best under the circumstances. It is more important to keep children, parents and teachers safe.”

Another added: “When you have more than one child, it’s very difficult trying to find time to help all of them.”

One parent of three primary school-aged children said they found it hard to manage all of their learning at home, adding: “Luckily I could help my children with maths and English, even for Year 4, but I feel for children whose parents don’t know how to read English. Some of the maths lessons do need preparation before you teach to your child.”

One parent suggested more should be done by teachers to support pupils at home, saying: “All schools should be using things like Google Classroom to deliver lessons to all children by familiar teachers from their schools at least twice a week, instead of children being home schooled completely by parents.”

Another respondent, who said they were both a parent and a teacher, added: “I do not understand why libraries haven’t reopened so that computers can be accessed. Social distancing can be in place and plastic covers can be put over computer equipment and sanitised between use.

“The opening of libraries would help those children who are struggling to complete online school work.”

If you would like to have your say on when schools should reopen, email and your thoughts could appear on our letters page.