WARRINGTON Primary Academy Trust (WPAT) has said school staff should be vaccinated as a priority as pupils are set to return to classrooms.

It was announced this afternoon, Monday, that all pupils in England’s schools are expected to return from March 8, with wider use of face masks and testing in secondaries.

Louise Smith, CEO of WPAT - which includes seven primary schools - said vaccinating teachers and school staff would 'stop disruptions to learning'.

"We are excited and very positive about getting all of our children back into school," she said.

"We are confident that the measures we have in place across our schools will minimise any risks to our staff, pupils and their families.

"All of our staff now receive regular lateral flow tests which is an added level of reassurance and this will continue for the foreseeable future.

"It would be great if all school staff could be vaccinated as a priority.

"It will stop disruptions to learning and ensure that high quality face to face teaching can be maintained.

"I would join my colleagues across the country in calling on the government to do this."

Louise Smith WPAT CEO

Louise Smith WPAT CEO

Speaking earlier in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "All the evidence shows that classrooms are the best places for our young people to be and that’s why I’ve always said that schools would be the last to close and the first to reopen.

"And based on our assessment of the current data against the four tests, I can tell the House that two weeks from today, pupils and students in all schools and further education settings can safely return to face-to-face teaching, supported by twice weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils.

"Families and childcare bubbles will also be encouraged to get tested regularly.

"Breakfast and after-school clubs can also reopen and other children’s activities including sport can restart where necessary to help parents to work."

It is understood that secondary school and college leaders will be given some flexibility to stagger the return of students from March 8 to ensure pupils are tested before returning to class.

Primary school children will not need to take a rapid coronavirus test.

The decision comes despite calls from education unions to adopt a 'phased return' of students – similar to in Wales and Scotland where schools began reopening to the youngest pupils on Monday.