SCHOOLS in Reading will decide whether they are ready to open next week, the council’s leaders have announced.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Sunday that early years, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils will return to school from June 1.

The decision will be confirmed at today’s (Thursday, May 28) three-weekly lockdown review.

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But Reading Borough Council (RBC) lead councillors said, in Reading, this will be up to headteachers and governing bodies to decide.

Schools closed on March 20, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, in response to the spread of coronavirus.

Cllr Jason Brock, leader of RBC, and Cllr Ashley Pearce, lead member for Education, issued a joint statement on plans in Reading.

They said: “The council is still working with school leaders to support them in gradually opening further to certain year groups from June 1, if that is what schools decide to do, and in line with government guidance.

“We all know that there is widespread uncertainty about this issue for school colleagues, parents, and the wider community.

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“We really want to get more pupils back at school, learning, but we’ve been very clear that this must only happen when the time is right, and when schools are safe.

“Ultimately the decision to open will be made by headteachers and governing bodies, and we have assured them that they have our full support in whatever they choose to do.

“We know they are working incredibly hard to provide a clear, safe structure for their schools and have undertaken all the necessary risk assessments.

“Schools will be communicating to parents their plans over the coming days and weeks.”

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From June 15, up to a quarter of Year 10 and Year 12 pupils will be allowed "some contact" to help prepare for exams, but it is not clear what this means.

Cllrs Brock and Pearce added: “We have been, and continue to be, very frustrated by the lack of clarity from government and the Secretary of State for Education, to whom we recently wrote raising our concerns over the absence of detailed national guidance. To date, we have had no acknowledgment.”

The councillors thanked staff at Reading schools which have remained open and parents for their patience and for education children at home under “unusual circumstances and pressures”.

They also praised the “perseverance, maturity and dedication” of Reading’s schoolchildren in continuing their studies “in such peculiar times”.