MORE clarity for schools is still needed despite the Government dropping its plans for all primary school pupils to return to their desks before the summer, a Cumbrian union has said.

Unite Community Cumbria welcomed the u-turn but is calling on Cumbria County Council to ask schools not to reopen until effective test-and-trace systems are in place.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed yesterday the Government's ambition for a full reopening of primary schools before the end of term had been scrapped.

He said the Government would like to see schools who "have the capacity" bring back more pupils where possible before the summer break, and that it was still working towards all children returning to school by September.

Robert Charlesworth, secretary for Unite Community Cumbria, said the u-turn was a "victory" for the National Education Union (NEU) and its campaign on its five safety tests.

"However the government are still giving schools flexibility to open if they wish," he said. "In reality this choice will be driven by the needs of employers to force the parents back to work.

"Without a proper test-and-trace system, which the head of the government programme Tony Prestedge has admitted won’t be in place until at least September, it cannot be safe done safely.

"We call upon Cumbria County Council to provide a clear and unequivocal statement that until effective testing, tracing and isolation systems are in place, schools should not reopen."

Unite Community Cumbria had already urged the local authority to make a recommendation to schools not to reopen until the NEU's five safety conditions could be met as it said this was "an abrogation of responsibility which puts an unfair burden on individual head teachers and their staff."

Councillor Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning, said the council had worked closely with schools throughout and believed individual schools were best placed to make their own decisions on reopening.

She said: "There are strong reasons to support more children returning to school, but it has to be safe to do so.

"We have provided support, guidance, health information and a comprehensive risk assessment process for them to follow in doing so and we have been clear that we will support any decision a school makes once it has followed that process.

"We understand these are difficult decisions, but it is not appropriate to expect a one size fits all approach to this issue. We will continue to support schools and headteachers to make decisions that are right for their schools and their pupils."