Former Ofsted chief says students should 'work in summer holidays' to catch up on missed lessons

Sir Michael Wilshaw is the former chief inspector of schools in England and head of Ofsted. (PA)

A former Ofsted chief inspector has said students could be made to work throughout their summer holidays to make up for school closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Michael Wilshaw told Sky News on Sunday that “working in holiday periods” should be considered to help students catch up with work they may have missed since the lockdown started in March.

He added that he believes it is time to reopen schools, but warned it is "critical" that parents are confident it is safe to do so.

"It is all right opening up schools but if parents lack that confidence they are not going to send [children] in,” Sir Michael said.

A woman walks past a rainbow banner on a school fence as the UK continues in lockdown. (PA)

"It seems to me that the government have got a real part to play here making sure that parents have the evidence."

"Schools have really got to ensure that recovery programmes are put in place – that might mean working in holiday periods, it might mean weekend work with examinations due."

Sir Michael said the current shutdown risks creating a “lost generation of youngsters” and that the UK should follow other countries’ examples and reopen schools as soon as possible.

He told Sky News: "Yes, they should [reopen], and other countries have opened up their schools in Europe and beyond and so should we.

He added: "What is absolutely clear is that a lot of youngsters have lost a considerable amount of time while this lockdown has taken place."

Sir Michael said he understood why some teachers are reluctant to reopen schools, saying: "Social distancing with five-year-olds is a bit like herding cats.

"It is no good saying we are going to let schools do what they want, because some schools will do it extremely well and other schools won't.

"Some schools will ensure there is a triage system in place, there is temperature testing and classrooms are intensively cleaned and so on.

"Other schools might not be doing that, so it is really important that the government is very prescriptive in what they would expect schools to do."

The government is currently planning to reopen schools for some age groups from 1 June onwards.

But only a handful of councils plan to reopen schools on that date, leaving parents across the country in the dark over their children's education.

The final decision on whether or not to open up classrooms will fall to headteachers and teaching unions.

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