Pupils' return to class is supported, Express & Star survey finds

Parents want their children back in the classroom, and fear they have been damaged by the enforced break.

Students starting the new school year this week will find a different experience with safety measures in place
Students starting the new school year this week will find a different experience with safety measures in place

A survey by the Express & Star reveals almost six in 10 support the full reopening of schools this week.

Term officially starts for students across the West Midlands and Staffordshire tomorrow, although for most their first day back will be Wednesday.

Readers overwhelmingly said youngsters had suffered both educationally and mentally from the lockdown, with most children having not set foot in a classroom in nearly six months.

The experience of going to school will be very different for youngsters.

The results of the Experss & Star poll

Many schools have set up social bubbles through class or year groups.

Start and break times may be staggered and there will be social distancing and sanitising rules to keep to.

Assemblies will be scrapped to prevent large gatherings and many schools will enforce mask wearing in corridors.

Of the readers who took part in our online poll, 67 per cent said they thought children’s mental health had been affected by the restrictions, which saw schools close to most pupils in March.

And even more thought the lockdown had major implications for youngsters’ learning, with 71 per cent saying that children’s education had been severely affected by the lockdown.

Concerns

And while teaching unions had previously voiced concerns about whether it was safe for schools to reopen, these concerns do not appear to be shared by the West Midland public.

Just over half of readers – 53 per cent – said they believed it was safe for children to return to school, compared to 34 per cent who said it wasn’t.

A further 13 per cent were undecided.

The public is evenly split on whether schools should have done more to keep in touch with youngsters during the lockdown.

Fifty-three per cent said they thought schools had done enough to keep in contact with pupils, but 47 per cent believed they had not.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

The survey will also concern Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, with less than a quarter saying they were happy with the Government’s handling of the reopening of schools.

The South Staffordshire MP was accused of caving in to teaching unions when he failed to reopen schools before the summer holidays.

Since then he has come under even more criticism for his handling of this year’s A-level results, which were initially calculated by an algorithm which was said to be weighted against pupils from struggling schools.

The algorithm was later abandoned, and Mr Williamson said students would instead be graded according to assessments by teachers.

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