Newington head teacher: “Children, families and staff welfare paramount” in proposed June 1 return to school

Newington head teacher Cliff Stokes

Newington Primary School in Ramsgate is “assessing the operational aspects” of a return to school for pupils in Reception and Years one and six following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night (May 10) of a phased return to classes from June 1.

Speaking of the announcement head teacher Cliff Stokes said the safety of children, families and staff are paramount in any proposed return to school

He added: “We will do our very best to adhere to social distancing and hygiene routines, as well as alleviating any anxieties that parents and children may have.

“We will have a very clear action plan that will endeavour to keep all sections of our community safe, as well as supporting our pupils’ mental well-being, whilst at the same time making sure that no child is academically left behind.”

In a newsletter to parents following the Government announcement about potential easing of some areas of social lockdown, Mr Stokes said: “As part of the announcement we were told that schools should make themselves ready to greet pupils from Reception, Year One and Year Six, from June 1.

“I am sure that we will be receiving further advice from the Department for Education in the very near future, at which point we will be able to make clear our plans for the return to school, once we know what this means for us.”

While the school is awaiting further official Government communication on the matter, Mr Stokes urged parents and families to be patient if they need answers to questions at this point.

He said: “Rest assured, your child’s safety, as well as the safety of the staff, will be paramount in our minds whilst we are planning for June 1. We will do our utmost to allay any anxieties that you may have.”

The National Education Union is appealing to government to abandon the June 1 return date.

Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:“We think that the announcement by the Government that schools may reopen from June 1 with reception and years 1 and 6 is nothing short of reckless.

“Coronavirus continues to ravage communities in the UK and the rate of Covid-19 infection is still far too great for the wider opening of our schools.

“A study published last week by the University of East Anglia suggested that school closures are the single most effective way of suppressing the spread of the virus.

“There must be much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases, with extensive arrangements for testing and contact tracing to keep it that way. This test has manifestly not been met.

“We must have a national plan for social distancing, hygiene, appropriate PPE and regular testing to ensure our schools and colleges don’t become hot spots for Covid-19. This test has manifestly not been met.

“And there must be plans drawn up to protect vulnerable staff, or those who live with vulnerable people, to stop more educators or members of their families dying of this dreadful disease.”

The NEU is urging Government to follow the example of the Welsh and Scottish administrations which have made the decision not to re-open schools at this time.

A petition raised by parents campaigning to be given a choice on whether or not to send children back to school in June has already been signed by 300,000 people.

The petition can be found  at