UNIONS have told teachers not to take part in what they are calling “reckless” preparations to reopen schools on June 1.

The Government has set out plans for a phased opening of primary schools from the start of next month as coronavirus lockdown measures are eased.

But this has met with fierce opposition from teaching unions, who say the proposal is unsafe – and warned staff not to engage with the plans.

Talks with the Government have been so heated that the children’s commissioner for England told both to “stop squabbling” on Saturday.

The unions say they have been left with many unanswered questions. And while teachers have expressed concerns about pupils missing school, many believe it is not safe to return.

The Brighton and Hove Branch of the National Education Union (NEU) slammed the Prime Minister’s decision to begin reopening schools from June 1 as “rushed and reckless”.

Paul Shellard, Secretary of Brighton and Hove NEU, said: “Our members care deeply about the children we teach and are very concerned about the impact of school closures on families.

“But nothing is more important than making sure our schools, the pupils we teach, their families and communities are safe.”

The NEU hosted a virtual meeting earlier this month. Among the panellists was Anna Watson, who works at a nursery school in Brighton. She feared it would be impossible to implement social distancing in schools, saying: “Children gravitate towards each other. We can’t keep them apart.”

She said it was impractical even with the handful of key workers’ children currently at her nursery, adding: “The children don’t understand it. It’s impossible for them to adhere to it.”

At the same meeting, The Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Kemptown, cautioned against sending children back in the coming weeks, saying “running headlong” into such a move could prove disastrous.

Following talks with unions and scientific advisers last week, the Government’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said getting children back to school was “vital”.

He said: “Getting children back to school is vital for their educational development and many schools are already taking steps to welcome back their pupils. I am grateful for their support.”

He added: “I want to reassure parents and families that we are giving schools, nurseries and other providers all the guidance and support they will need to welcome more children back in a phased way and no earlier than June 1.”