Banning cars from outside Leeds schools will help children socially distance, claims teacher

Banning cars from outside primary schools will help children and parents to socially distance when schools reopen, a Leeds headteacher said.

The new 'School Street' scheme will see roads outside schools turn into pedestrian and cyclist only zones.

It launches on Monday, June 1 - the same day that the government encouraged schools in the city to reopen.The trial scheme has been introduced by Leeds City Council to keep children safe from traffic and reduce air pollution.

However, Kathryn Dickson, Head of School at Pudsey Primrose Primary School, said it will also keep children safe when they return to school.

Banning cars from outside primary schools will help children and parents to socially distance when schools reopen, a Leeds headteacher said.

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"It will make a huge difference to our children and families in all sorts of ways.

"First, it will support all the measures we’ve already put in place to ensure social distance when more children return to school, by making it possible for people to spread out safely during drop-off and pick-up times.

"Our families will also be delighted that they can finally walk, scoot and cycle safely, often with pushchairs and young children, without the constant risk to safety and health caused by congestion and gridlock, parking on pavements, on zig-zag lines and idling.

"Our children have campaigned for safer, healthier school streets for so long, and they will finally be able to see what that looks like.

"It will create a safety ring around our whole school community, and we will all soon wonder how it could ever have been otherwise."

Other schools taking part in the pilot scheme are:

- Ingram Road Primary School, Holbeck

- Cross Gates Primary School, Cross Gates

- Thorpe Primary School, Thorpe

- Clapgate Primary, Middleton

- Lane End Primary, Beeston are the first schools to take part in the pilot scheme.

The pilot schemes will use a temporary traffic regulation order, restricting traffic to help with phased and staggered returns for those children who are going back to school.

Residents living within the new school street zones have been issued with permits so that they can continue to enter and leave the zone freely.

Blue Badge-holders and emergency vehicles will also have full access.

The new scheme comes as Leeds Council announced that parents would not be fined for choosing not to send their children back to school on June 1.

A council spokesman said said it will leave the decision of whether to restart lessons to individual schools.

Schools across England anticipate a significant number of pupils and teaching staff will not return to the classroom this week despite the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures, a report suggests.

More than a quarter (29%) of available teachers will only be able to work from home, according to the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) study, prompting fears that shortages will affect schools' ability to provide the same level of teaching quality.

Primary schools in England have been told to reopen to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from this week, with nurseries also expected to resume sessions.

But the NFER report, based on a survey of more than 1,200 senior leaders in schools in England, suggests that heads are expecting nearly half (46%) of families to keep their children at home.

The study finds that school leaders with the highest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals estimate that more of their families (50%) will keep pupils at home, compared with an average estimate of 42% from school leaders with the lowest proportion of free-meal pupils.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic our decisions have been based on the best scientific and medical advice, with the welfare of children and staff at the heart of all considerations."

On schools reopening, he added: "This marks the first step in getting all children and young people back into classrooms so they can be with their friends and teachers again, and I'm enormously grateful for all the planning and preparation the sector has done in the lead up to welcoming these first pupils back."

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