'Confusing', 'frustrating' and 'unfair' - heads respond to Boris Johnson's schools announcement

The prime minister’s announcement that schools may begin to reopen on June 1 has been labelled as “confusing”, “frustrating” and “unfair” by headteachers.

Boris Johnson announced last night that he hoped pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 would be able to return to schools on June 1, and set out an “ambition” to allow secondary school pupils with exams next year “at least some time with their teachers before the holidays”.

Already had to spend some of my evening calming staff because this lack of clarity is unfair

However, a lack of detail in the announcement and lack of clarity on when further guidance would be published has left school staff scrambling to find information about what they must do.

“So Sunday’s big announcement is basically that there’ll be an announcement on Monday,” tweeted Michael Tidd, head of East Preston Junior School in West Sussex, who added that the proposal “shouldn’t have been announced without the supporting detail”.

Cathy Rowland, head of Dobcroft Infant School in Sheffield, said: “How on earth can reception and year 1 come back safely in three weeks! They cannot socially distance!”

Gary Spracklen, headteacher at The Prince of Wales School in Dorchester, said he had written to parents to “urge caution around what you tell your children”.

“I would urge you not to make any promises to your children about when school will return,” he said.

Leaders are also annoyed the information was not shared with schools before being made public.

Mark Currell, head of Roade Primary School in Northampton, added: “We now have a really difficult few days and weeks ahead of us as we try to manage the safety, anxiety, questions, demands and expectations of families, staff, parents, governors and children.”

Jamie Nairn, head of Wootton Primary School in Northampton, said that it leave again leave schools with “parents contacting tomorrow who yet again won’t believe that we don’t know anything!”

Another headteacher, who goes by TeacherCath on twitter, said: “Already had to spend some of my evening calming staff because this lack of clarity is unfair, especially to staff who have been going above and beyond for 6 weeks now. Too many variables in play to be publicising dates.”

The Department for Education has also been accused of muddying the water further with its own statement, which used different language to that used by the prime minister.

The DfE tweeted last night: “As confirmed by the Prime Minister this evening, we are asking education and childcare settings to prepare to open for more children from 1 June.

“We will publish further guidance setting out more information for early years, schools and colleges tomorrow.”

Heads working in three-tier education systems, which move pupils between schools at different points in their education, have also called for clarity about what it means for them.

Jo Fairclough, head of Wolgarston High School in Staffordshire, tweeted: “Wondering whether someone will take into account transition within 3 tier school system. Does this mean Y8s going back (not Y6) in some schools?”