Headteacher threatens to ban children from school if they break lockdown rules

George Martin
·3 min read
The head of Yew Tree Community School in Oldham sent a letter home to parents this week. (Google)
The head of Yew Tree Community School in Oldham sent a letter home to parents this week. (Google)

A headteacher has threatened to stop children who are breaking the nationwide lockdown rules from attending school.

Martine Buckley, the headteacher at Yew Tree Community School in Oldham, Greater Manchester, said in a letter to parents on Monday that she understood home schooling was “nigh on impossible” for many families.

But she added that those who are breaking the rules are putting teachers and support staff at risk and claimed we will “get over this much quicker if we all follow the rules”.

“Our lovely children are open and honest and they tell us about their lives and activities,” Buckley wrote.

A football lies on the empty playground of a primary school in east London, which has moved into the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions as a result of soaring case rates.
The government has been urged to bring schools back after the February half term. (PA)

“Currently a number of them are telling us that they are visiting friends, neighbours and family which is against the law.

“Our teachers and support staff are putting their own safety at risk to look after your children and they should be confident that you are doing your bit to follow the lockdown rules.

“I am afraid that I will have to withdraw the offer of a place in school to children whose parents are putting us in danger.”

Read more: Pupil sent home from school over afro hair called a 'stroppy teenager of colour' by barrister

It comes as Conservative MPs urged the government to reopen schools after the February half-term break in areas where infection rates are low.

Education minister Nick Gibb said the government will be “led by the science” when making decisions about “moving away from the lockdown conditions”.

It is expected parents will receive two weeks’ notice ahead of any reopening, Gibb added.

Watch: Education minister insists there is ‘a plan’ for reopening schools

Speaking in the Commons during an urgent question on the issue, Conservative MP and chairman of the Education Select Committee Robert Halfon raised high levels of anxiety, depression and self-harm among children due to school closures – and the pressures faced by parents.

He said: “We just need to get our schools open again sooner rather than later.

“Why not open schools and colleges in the areas where Covid cases and the R (rate) is significantly lower?”

Gibb highlighted mental health support in place, before replying: “He asked about regional differences in infection rates – we will always be led by the science when making decisions about moving away from the lockdown conditions.”

He added that the mental health of pupils, parents and school staff is taken “very seriously”, adding: “At every step we will be led by the scientific advice about when it is safe to reopen schools.”

Conservative Felicity Buchan (Kensington) said the “majority of parents” in her area would like to see their children return to school after the half-term break, adding: “Can he assure me everything is being done to get children back into school and that we have not ruled out a return after the mid-term break?”

Gibb said “no-one is keener” than him to see “all schools back and open to all children and young people”.

Watch: What is long Covid?