Labour mayor says he will ‘resist’ plans to reopen school as Lord Blunkett blasts teaching unions


A LABOUR mayor will “resist” plans to reopen primary schools by June 1 – as David Blunkett today blasted hardline unions for “working against the interests of children”.

Joe Anderson said he was concerned young children could spread the disease or become ill themselves if schools were to open their doors.

Schools have re-opened in France with social distancing measures in place for students

Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight, the Liverpool mayor said he would “absolutely” defy government orders to restart schools because “the safety of our children comes first”.

He added: “At the end of the day the scientific advice is scientific advice, but if our levels of coronavirus infection are higher than anywhere else then I am not about to take risks with children’s lives, or with staff and teaching professional’s lives.

“We will make sure, as far as I ‘m concerned, it is safe for our children to return to school and only when we are convinced it is safe for children to return to school, will we allow it.”


It comes after Labour grandee Lord Blunkett today launched a blistering attack on unions and accused militant chiefs of making parents too “frightened” to send their kids back to class.

The ex education secretary said he was “deeply critical” of teaching unions hell-bent on torpedoing the plan to gradually reopen schools from June 1.

He warned that it is the poorest kids, who don’t have the highly educated parents or expensive tutors, who will suffer most.

And he took a swipe at Labour who have also been hostile to reopening schools – telling them his advice would be to “work together from June 1 to get those children back into school”.

Lord Blunkett fumed: “I am being deeply critical of the attitude. It is about how can we work together to make it work as safely – we can’t 100 per cent – as safely as possible.

“Anyone who works against that in my view is working against the interests of children.”

He praised teachers who have carried on teaching disadvantaged kids and the offspring of key workers throughout the lockdown.

But he warned the hardline stance of the National Education Union will only harm the life chances of the poorest kids who need the classroom the most.

He pointed out that NHS, social care and supermarket staff have all kept working, with precautions, through the crisis, and now was the time for teachers to get schools back up and running.

David Blunkett took a blast at unions for refusing to help kids get back to school

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme: “In the end this is a matter of risk.

“We know, I am just stating this as a fact, we know that children transmit the disease less than adults, they are less likely to get it and therefore they are less likely to be a risk.

“Tens of thousands of really good teachers have been doing what they have been doing.

“They have been shopping and thanking the people on the counters in supermarkets and shops or they have got parents who are being cared for by those carers in those harms, they thank them and they know they
are taking a risk.

“In asking teachers from June 1, to very carefully with the best possible advice…go back and start teaching those children, that has to be in the best interest of the most disadvantaged in our country.”

He said these are kids “who will not have tutors to be able to recover, who will not have parent who had higher education, who will rely entirely on us getting back to normal as quickly as possible”.

Ministers want to gradually bring back schools for primary pupils and Year 10s and year 12s from June 1.

But unions have vowed to crush the plan, and have warned classes may not come back until September.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, furiously hit back at Lord Blunkett’s fiery takedown.

She said: “The NEU absolutely has the interests of children and young people at the heart of all we do.”

And she stressed that teachers want to see a return to schools but “the Government cannot provide evidence that it is safe to do so it is reckless to rush into any such plans”.

She added: “This is not just for the safety of teachers, children and their parents and families but for wider society.”