19th Sep, 2020

'Worcestershire children in three-tier school system forgotten in PM's reopening plans'

Tristan Harris 13th May, 2020 Updated: 13th May, 2020

PUPILS in Worcestershire’s three-tier education systems have been forgotten in the Government’s phased back to school plan – that is the view of many parents.

On Sunday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced reception, year one and year six children should start going back after the May half-term.

But concerns have been expressed about the proposal which some say has been put together with standard two-tier school systems in mind and not taken into consideration the county’s three-tier format.

Across most of the country year six children will be preparing to go to secondary school, which fits into the Government’s plans.

But in Worcestershire it will be year eights getting ready to transition from middle school to high school and year fours preparing to leave first school who should be considered, say parents.

Because of many local authorities changing their systems from three to two-tier, there are currently only 107 middle schools in the UK, whereas there used to be 1,400.

The situation is further complicated in Droitwich where pupils transition to high school between year seven and eight.

We were contacted by Marion Holdsworth who was concerned about her year eight granddaughter and the impact Coronavirus could have on her move to high school in September.

She said: “I really feel for her at the moment – she and her classmates are being forgotten about.

“I just think it’s wrong.

“I agree children who are transitioning should go back to school for the final term but that should include year eights and fours.”

Sarah Wilkins, Director for Education and Early Help at Worcestershire Children First said it was working with the Department for Education (DfE), schools and early years providers on a plan for the phased return.

“Our priority is to make sure that schools and nurseries are safe places for children and for staff.”

“The Government has outlined that children should be able to return to early years settings, and for reception, year one and year six to be back in school from the beginning of next month.

“This aims to ensure that the youngest children, and those preparing for a different stage of their learning, have time with their teachers.”

She added she recognised in Worcestershire the importance of the transitional stages – from first to middle or middle to high.

“We are talking to the DfE and with headteachers to develop plans in the best interests of children and young people and are realistic and manageable through the phases of change that the Government is proposing.”

Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid said: “The Government has set out the approach to ease the lockdown measures in a safe and measured way.

“The decision to provide a phased return for students in early years settings, with reception, year one and year six students first, aims to ensure that the youngest children, and those preparing for the transition to secondary school, have maximum time with their teachers.

“I can understand why the Government has focused on the return of Year year students, as for the vast majority of schools, this is the final stage of primary education before transitioning to high school.

“However, it is also important to consider local circumstances, including the first and middle Schools in Bromsgrove and Worcestershire.

“I’ve raised this issue directly with the Schools Minister and the county council, and will continue to seek further guidance for Middle Schools and school children in years four and eight.”

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