Former Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw has said it may be necessary to consider canceling the summer break so that student education can come back to life when schools reopen.
He said that dropping the usual six-week break may be necessary to ensure that students do not lose precious time, as the education system resumes after closings.
Schools could reopen from June 1 after 10 weeks of closure – but typically DST ends on July 20 for a six-week break before the new school year begins in September.
It would mean that schools are only active for seven weeks before the summer holidays close again.
“(Schools) really need to ensure that recovery programs are put in place – that could mean working during holiday periods, but maybe weekend exams too,” said Sir Michael.
He said the closure could see a “lost generation” of young people.
“It is a great tragedy because our education system has made tremendous progress in recent years,” he said.
Sir Michael, the former Superintendent of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted from 2012 to 2016, said research shows underprivileged students have suffered most from the closure.
When the coronavirus pandemic occurred in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced that schools and colleges should close from Friday, March 20.
Sir Michael says it’s time for schools to reopen, but warned that it is “critical” for parents to trust that it is safe to do so.
‘It is fine to open schools, but if parents do not have that confidence, they will not send (children).
“It seems to me that the government has a real role to play here and that parents have the evidence.”
Speaking on Sky’s Sophie Ridge On Sunday program, Sir Michael said he understood why some teachers are reluctant to reopen schools and said, “Socializing with five-year-olds is a bit like herding cats.
“It is really important that the government gets the trust of parents and teachers and that they have to establish very clear guidelines and rules under which schools should operate.
“It is not good to say that we will let schools do what they want, because some schools will do extremely well and others will not.
“Some schools will ensure that there is a triage system, that temperature is tested and that the classrooms are cleaned intensively, and so on.
“Other schools may not do that, so it’s really important that the government be very prescriptive of what it would expect from schools.”
Sir Michael said that local authorities should be responsible for checking safety standards as soon as schools open again.
“The government should have really been preparing the ground for those last three months to hold meetings with parent and teacher associations to make sure all the facts are there.
“Transparency is absolutely crucial, and families who don’t necessarily read all of the investigative body investigations need something to go further to make that balanced judgment, and I’m not sure they received it.”
Sir Michael said that a crisis in the education system can be prevented if school leaders are committed to “restore lost ground”.
“That means that teachers have to convince to work the extra hours, come in on weekends and holidays, and do really intensive work with young people, especially in exam groups,” he said.
He criticized Ofsted for not following the educational practices of distant schools during the closure.
Inspectors should investigate the country to see what is happening, especially in disadvantaged communities, to see if young people have laptops, for example.
“I know that some schools that I am in contact with are struggling to buy laptops for children in emergency situations, so Ofsted should do this research and inform the government about the state of the field so that the government takes the necessary action can take. “