School chief highlights ‘logistical difficulties’ facing teachers as pupils look to return

Clare Flintoff head shot with green backfdrop

Clare Flintoff, CEO of Asset Education. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The chief executive of a Suffolk academy group has told of the challenges facing schools as they look to re-open their doors to some pupils next month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday that the Government would be looking to send back pupils from reception, year one and year six from June 1.

Clare Flintoff, CEO of Asset Education, which runs a number of schools in Suffolk, said that teachers were having to make “considerable adjustments” to government proposals to get pupils back safely.

She said there were particular concerns about the impact of returning on younger pupils.

“There are logistical difficulties for schools but most importantly, the challenges will be for our youngest children who would be expected to return to spend whole days with unfamiliar adults in unfamiliar classrooms,” said Mrs Flintoff.

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“Spreading nursery, reception and year one children across the school in small groups could be quite frightening for the children.

“They would need to be with adults who might not even know their names.”

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Despite the current difficulties Mrs Flintoff said that teachers and the education sector more widely had responded well to the crisis. “Schools have been doing an amazing job over the last few months,” said Mrs Flintoff.

“Our teachers are running remote learning classrooms and interacting with children daily.

“We were able to set these up almost overnight showing that the education sector is quite able to react quickly and with resilience.”

As schools look to reopen Mrs Flintoff said it was important that parents continued to stay in contact and provide feedback.

“We want to establish how many parents are likely to send their children to school,” said Mrs Flintoff.

“We are also particularly keen to ask the children what they most miss about school.

“Finding ways to give them what they need, and are missing, needs to be a priority.”

While schools continue to finalise details on their re-opening plans, Mrs Flintoff said that safety remained at the forefront of all schools’ minds.

“Keeping children and staff safe is paramount,” said Mrs Flintoff.

“We are all missing being at school and we want to get back as soon as possible but safety and saving lives needs to come first at this time.”

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