primary school statistics

Is it safe to reopen primary schools?

Just 28% of people nationwide consider it safe to open primary schools…

Primary schools are now able to be open to children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6. But the Government is set to shelve plans to force primaries to open up to all year groups this side of the summer holidays.

So with Coronavirus still very much present (and still very much killing people) in the UK, is it safe to reopen primary schools at all?

I’m no scientist. But the basis for schools reopening and the scientific advice on which the reopening plans were issued is outlined in this BBC article. Instead, what I want to talk about today is what people think. Opinions. And while opinions certainly should not trump the science when it comes to making the call about reopening, I’m interested in the statistics relating to viewpoints.

Is it safe to reopen schools? The Stats from Our Survey

We polled 2,003 adults in the UK between 5th and 8th June 2020 to ask:

How safe/unsafe do you think it is for primary schools to reopen in light of Coronavirus?

We gave 5 options for responses:

  • Completely safe
  • Quite safe
  • Not very safe
  • Completely unsafe
  • Not sure

Here’s what the statistics tell us about public opinion on reopening primary schools.

Statistics on public opinion of reopening primary schools – June 2020
How safe/unsafe do you think it is for primary schools to reopen in light of coronavirus?% of Respondents
Completely safe5.54%
Quite safe22.82%
Not very safe37.14%
Completely unsafe25.51%
Not sure8.99%

Men and Women have slightly different views:

How safe/unsafe do you think it is for primary schools to reopen in light of coronavirus?% of Male Respondents% of Female Respondents
Completely safe7.08%4.09%
Quite safe25.95%19.84%
Not very safe36.62%37.65%
Completely unsafe21.54%29.28%
Not sure8.82%9.14%

In all:

  • Overall, 62.65% of people believe it either not very safe or completely unsafe to reopen primary schools
  • Women are the likelier to consider it unsafe to do so with 66.93% of female respondents answering with either “not very safe” or “completely unsafe.”

Regional Variations in the Responses

Different parts of the UK gave different responses too:

Completely safeQuite safeNot very safeCompletely unsafeNot sure
East of England5.24%21.99%35.60%26.70%10.47%
Greater London7.31%23.46%36.15%27.31%5.77%
East Midlands5.33%27.33%35.33%25.33%6.67%
West Midlands6.11%27.78%35.00%20.00%11.11%
North East6.10%23.17%39.02%21.95%9.76%
North West4.11%22.37%35.62%30.59%7.31%
Northern Ireland7.69%19.23%40.38%21.15%11.54%
South East5.43%23.91%39.13%23.91%7.61%
South West5.78%21.97%42.20%20.81%9.25%
Yorkshire and the Humber9.62%19.23%37.82%22.44%10.90%

Key findings:

  • People in Scotland are most likely to consider school reopening to be unsafe with 67.26% of Scots answering either “not very safe” or “completely unsafe.”
  • This is followed by Wales, where 66.67% did the same
  • At the other end of the spectrum, respondents in the West Midlands are the likeliest to consider reopening primary schools “safe.” 33.89% answered either “completely safe” or “quite safe.”

How many pupils are back in primary schools?

So how many parents have sent their children (those who are eligible) back to primary school?

Well, statistics published by the Department for Education (and reported here) suggest:

  • Just over half (52%) of primary schools have actually (as of 4th June) reopened doors to reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils
  • 11% of primary school pupils were in school
  • This represents just a quarter of those who would have been eligible to attend

In other words, the statistics suggest that some three quarters of children who could be back in primary school in England now are not.

Is is safe to send your children to school?

I think it’s a highly personal decision and very dependent upon your specific circumstances and school. Our son is in reception and the school has a brand new building with lots of space. It’s not the same for every school.

His school have been able to dedicate a teacher, a classroom and a teaching assistant to every group of 12 children. They’re able to implement social distancing to reduce the risk of transmission of Coronavirus.

Some parents have no choice and have to work. Some parents choose to send them because they deem it better for their wellbeing.

Some households have at risk members in them. Some children have health conditions that make them more at risk of complications if they contract Covid-19.

There are all sorts of variables here and I don’t believe there’s a single right or wrong answer about whether it’s safe and whether you should send children back to primary school right now.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m no scientist. So if you are interested in reading up more on the transmission of Coronavirus and other related information, take a look at these resources from the World Health Organisation.


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