Boris Johnson accused of exaggerating number of schools that were reopening

James MorrisSenior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Yahoo News UK
Boris Johnson made the claim during prime minister's questions on 10 June. (PA via AP)
Boris Johnson made the claim during prime minister's questions on 10 June. (PA via AP)

Boris Johnson used a House of Commons speech to exaggerate the number of schools with returning pupils, the government’s own data suggests.

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During prime minister’s questions on 10 June, Johnson said “97% of the schools that have submitted data are now seeing kids come back to school”.

Johnson was speaking in the context of schools having reopened to nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils on 1 June.

However, fact checking organisation Full Fact has pointed to data published by the Department for Education which shows that on 10 June – the day Johnson was speaking – only 69% of schools which provided data saw nursery, reception, year 1 or year 6 children return.

After Yahoo News UK approached the Department for Education, it confirmed the 97% figure Johnson was referring to also included vulnerable children and children of key workers, who had still been able to attend classes during the coronavirus lockdown.

Full Fact, an impartial charity which says it has a “cross-party board of trustees”, had said the figure “seems to refer to how many primary schools were open in any form”.

“This includes those that remained open only to vulnerable or key worker children.

“These schools were therefore not ‘now seeing kids come back’, as the PM said.”

Johnson’s 97% claim came a day after the government ditched plans for remaining primary school classes to return before the summer holidays.

Since then, unions have warned schools still won’t be able to reopen in time for the next academic year if the government’s social distancing measures remain in place – though the prime minister is expected to announce plans to relax the two-metre guidance in a Commons speech on Tuesday.

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