Camden and Haringey education bosses back headteachers and teaching unions to make decisions on when it is safe to re-open schools

Cllr Angela Mason says the challenges of coronavirus make "no exceptions" for nurseries. Picture: Sa

Cllr Angela Mason says the challenges of coronavirus make "no exceptions" for nurseries. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

Camden Council’s education chief has backed schools in the borough to use their own expertise and make their own decisions about reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Angela Mason, (Lab, Cantelowes) said the council would back the decisions its headteachers came to.

Meanwhile her Haringey counterpart Cllr Zena Brabazon (Lab, Harringay) said the borough’s schools should only re-open when it was safe to do so, and when both the government guidelines on safety and demands from the National Education Union (NEU) were met.

A group of primary schools in the west of Haringey have written to parents to say that they will not be beginning any phased opening on June 1 – as suggested by the government – but would instead be beginning a “phased re-opening” on June 8.

Camden’s Cllr Mason said: “In these unprecedented circumstances, it is our duty to fully support headteachers and governing bodies to ensure they are able to put complete safety measures in place, which will allow a gradual return to school in a safe and sustainable way. This isn’t about meeting an arbitrary national deadline, but finding the right balance for schools, pupils and families of safety and access to learning and support.”

Cllr Mason said the town hall was working with the teaching unions, and would “stand by” the decisions made by headteachers.

Cllr Brabazon in Haringey said that while she recognised the disadvantages for those missing out on schooling, “public safety” must come first and the NEU must be satisfied it was safe.

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She added: “I believe that reopening of our schools by governing bodies must be predicated on the basis that it is safe to do so and the government guidance is met, which includes a list of key issues and actions.

“Our hard-working teaching staff, parents and children deserve to know that it is safe when they go to school.”

The headteachers of the ten Haringey schools – St Mary’s Primary, Coleridge Primary, Campsbourne Primary, Rokesly Junior, Rokesly Infant and Nursery, Stroud Green Primary, St Aidan’s Primary, St Peter’s and St Gilda’s Primary and Weston Park Primary – sent a joint letter to parents and carers on May 20.

This stated that a June 8 start date would “provide us with time to better prepare our school buildings, ensure that we have the appropriate resources in place”.