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London schools dealing with more pupils than March as confusion grows over rules


ne in six London schools had 15 per cent or more of their pupils in class last week, new figures reveal.

Just one in 100 London schools had the same number of pupils attending at the beginning of the lockdown in March. The stark figures come as confusion grows around which children are eligible to go into school.  

But the Department for Education has widened the categories of vulnerable children who can still go to school and added more critical workers whose children can also attend since the first lockdown.

The guidance states that children with at least one parent who is a critical worker can go to school if required.

But it has been updated again to say that even if children are eligible for a place, parents should keep them at home “if they can”. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared to add to the confusion by saying that if only one parent in a household is a key worker, children should not go to school if possible. He confirmed that pupil numbers were larger than during the first lockdown last year. 

He said: “It’s always been the guidance that schools are there for key workers’ children where key workers need to have the children in school in order to be able to get to work.

“For instance, if you’re a key worker and your partner doesn’t work then you shouldn’t be sending your children to school.” 

The snapshot survey of attendance at London schools was carried out by the Teacher Tapp app. Schools were asked what proportion of students came in for childcare on January 6, when schools were closed to all but vulnerable and key worker children.

The same question was asked at the beginning of the first lockdown on March 23. In London, teachers from more than 1,000 schools responded.

The results reveal that in two per cent of London schools, 30 to 40 per cent of the normal student body turned up on January 6. In the first lockdown no schools recorded such high numbers.  

On the same day last week, six per cent of London schools had between 20 and 30 per cent of their children in, and seven per cent of schools had between 15 and 20 per cent.

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