Government must explore non-school alternatives for children over summer holidays led by community workers and volunteers including the use of independent school facilities and football stadiums 

IT is not safe enough for all schools to re-open on June 1, says a report from Independent SAGE, the 12-strong committee chaired by former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King. The report concludes that the government is not following the advice of its own scientists.

The report says that modelling from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) shows R increasing if schools re-open. It notes that since it published its draft report last week, the government has also heightened the risks of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases by undermining its own messaging.

It says: ‘Public adherence to social distancing is influenced by trust in the government and its messaging. This trust is increasingly strained.’

Today’s full report which was prepared after a public consultation with parents and teachers in association with the British Medical Journal and Mumsnet, concludes: ‘We therefore believe that by going ahead with a general school reopening on June 1st, the government is not following the advice of its SAGE group and is risking a new surge in cases of COVID-19 in some communities.’

The report includes a full Q&A based on questions and comments submitted to the committee by parents, pupils and teachers as well as a ‘risk assessment tool’ that provides a roadmap for schools to re-open safely.

It says this has to be a four-stage stage process that takes into account risks to ‘the school, the staff, the pupil and the parents and family environment’ and must be made on a ‘case-by-case basis’ using local real-time data.

In contrast, it says the government has committed to ‘top-down decision-making without engagement’ and that ‘well-functioning, coordinated, local test, track and isolate’ must be in place. It notes: ‘We have seen no compelling evidence that these conditions have so far been met across the country. Until they are, it is not safe to open schools everywhere on June 1.’

It also directly contradicts the advice of Professor Jonathan Van Tam who said at Monday’s press conference that children are less likely to pass on the virus. ‘Ongoing UK data and international data suggest that children are in fact as likely as adults to become infected and carry the virus...”’ 

The report raises the prospect that asymptomatic children could become ‘institutional amplifiers’ spreading the virus unnoticed into the community and that there is heightened risk of disease for families with children living in intergenerational households or who come from a BAME or disadvantaged backgrounds..

The government must act to protect children and prevent them from falling behind with alternative arrangements suggesting summer camps could be set up using facilities that include unused independent school buildings, playing fields and football stadiums.. Outdoor camps or schools in well-ventilated buildings or marquees would reduce the risk to both children and communities and some of the 750,000 people who volunteered to help the NHS could be brought into help subject to safeguarding protections.

The report notes ‘the coincidental government release of SAGE advisory documents relevant to school re-opening’ last week on the same day that Independent SAGE published its draft report. Its analysis of the modelling concludes, ‘policy decisions are not directly based on the mathematical modelling feeding into SAGE.

‘Of all the detailed scenarios provided by DfE and then considered by epidemiological models, none were selected as the government policy for reopening schools’

Sir David King 100x100Sir David King said:

“We recognise the difficult position that many families have been placed in by the government’s decision to send schools back from June 1st.

"Whilst we totally understand the imperative to get the nation’s children back in the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so the evidence clearly shows that the government has jumped the gun here.

“Crucially we conclude that the best way forward cannot be one size fits all, it requires localised case by case responses to ensure that the risk of flair ups is kept to a minimum.”

mary boustedDr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“This latest report casts yet more doubt and concern over the Prime Minister’s decision to press ahead with a June 1st wider opening for schools. The Government’s primary duty should be to protect its people, but in England - unlike the rest of the UK – we are hurtling towards the further opening of schools before the scientific evidence says it is safe to do so.

“This decision threatens not just the health of school communities but also of wider society, with the clear risk of a rise in the R rate. All the sacrifices that have been made to stay indoors and try to contain this virus could be thrown away in the pursuit of fulfilling an arbitrary promise to open schools more widely from June 1.

“The National Education Union’s snapshot survey of 4,016 members, published today, shows that even with the current low pupil numbers in schools, significant problems with health and safety exist. Members speak of the inability to maintain social distancing, the lack of hand sanitiser, insufficient PPE and not enough sinks for hand washing. Come June 1 should Government continue to press ahead with their plans, this will clearly get significantly worse.

“We believe the right thing to do is to wait a couple of weeks for the level of coronavirus to recede further and for the test and track programme to become embedded. We must not take risks with the nation’s children, their parents or school staff.

“We agree with Independent SAGE that the extent of the epidemic in Britain is greater than other European nations and that our school system is quite different. We have much larger class sizes in the UK and in England schools have much less support from local authorities.

“No one is saying go back when it is 100% safe, but with 37,460 people  across the country having already lost their lives to Covid-19 the Prime Minister must accept his responsibilities to the country and draw back from this arbitrary date.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page