Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that getting all children back to school full-time in September is the “right thing for everybody”.
Mr Johnson reiterated his pledge to reopen schools to children across the country in September as he insisted that they were “safe” and “Covid secure”. His comments came today, Monday 10th August, as he paid a visit to two Catholic schools in east London.
During a visit to St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Upminster, Mr Johnson spoke with head teacher Bernadette Matthews, who gave the Prime Minister a tour of the school and showed him the new measures being implemented there in an effort to ensure that children can return there safely next month.
During his visit Mr Johnson was seen demonstrating the two metre distancing rule as he held his arms out like an aeroplane while standing between desks in a classroom.
Mr Johnson then paid a visit to the Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Girls’ School in Upminster, which is hosting a summer camp. While he was there, the Prime Minister watched youngsters taking part in a socially distanced Covid-safe outdoor archery lesson before having a try himself.
Speaking during his visit, Mr Johnson said: “It’s not right that kids should spend more time out of school, it’s much, much better for their health and mental wellbeing, obviously their educational prospects, if everybody comes back to school full-time in September.
“It’s our moral duty as a country to make sure that happens.”
The Prime Minister struck a conciliatory tone to education unions, praising the work they had done to make classrooms safe.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “It’s very important that everybody works together to ensure that our schools are safe and they are – they are Covid secure – I have been very impressed by the work that the teachers have done, working with the unions, to make sure that all schools are safe to go back to in September.
“A lot of work being done over making sure that there’s social distancing, bubbling, staggered start times, all that kind of thing.
“But, basically, the plan is there – get everybody back in September, that’s the right thing for everybody.”
Mr Johnson said it was “not right” that children should spend any more time out of school, adding that it was more “damaging” for pupils who have fallen further behind amid school closures.
The Prime Minister said he understood there was “anxiety” about grades as pupils prepare to receive estimated results after exams were cancelled.
He said he was “very, very keen” that GCSE and A-level exams should go ahead as normal in the coming academic year.
Picture: Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his arms out like an aeroplane, demonstrating the two metre distancing rule, during his visit to St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Upminster, east London, to see work to make schools safe for return in September. (Lucy Young/Evening Standard/PA).