SOUTHEND Council will not force primary schools to re-open on June 1 if major safety concerns are raised.

Schools across Southend are undertaking risk assessments after government bosses announced that Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils could return to school at the start of next month.

Basildon Standard:

Prepared for staggered starts - Andrew Palmer

The authority has now confirmed if a school’s risk assessment suggests it is not safe to open on the grounds of health and safety, the council will support them in not opening.

Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “We are incredibly lucky that we have such fantastic schools in the borough whose primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of the children and the staff.

“No-one understands the schools better than the staff that work within them, therefore their judgement as professionals on how to implement the safe return of students is essential.

“Every school has our full support – whatever their decision.”

Southend Council wrote to every school to inform them of their position.

The letter, signed by Brin Martin - the director of education and early years - and Mrs Jones, added: “Each school is different, with individual health and safety risks, and each school needs to create and adapt its own plan accordingly.”

Bournemouth Park Academy have continued to accommodate up to 50 key worker pupils each day during lockdown.

Principal Will Brogan insists plans are in place to welcome those in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 next month.

Basildon Standard:

Limiting numbers in each classroom - Will Brogan

He said: “We have done a risk assessment and had been working on different options for a number of weeks.

“After putting together a number of plans, we have put something in place now and it was approved at a trustees meeting on Wednesday.

“We’ve been one of the busiest schools in Southend in terms of attendance during lockdown and bubbling between 40 and 50 pupils each day because they have key worker parents.

“Going forward, we will have no more than ten pupils in each class.”

Andrew Palmer, the headteacher of Heycroft Primary School, revealed staggered start times will be in place.

He said: “We are doing a lot of work ahead of June 1. We’ve created a video to show what the school will look like and we have put together a fact sheet for the parents.

“The layout of the classrooms have changed and, although the parents have not raised concerns about what the school is doing, we are respecting each individual parent and their views.

“We’ve followed the guidance and children will remain in small groups throughout the week, along with being with the same teacher.”