A Brent councillor and teacher called on his colleagues to support several teachers’ unions in opposing the Government’s plans to re-open schools until it is “demonstrably safe to do so”.

Cllr Jumbo Chan, who represents Kensal Green ward, wrote to Brent Council calling for “clarification” on its position regarding plans to invite more children back to schools across the borough.

Earlier this month, the Government announced primary schools in England might be able to welcome back children in nursery and reception years, as well as those in Year 1 and Year 6, on June 1.

There are also plans to provide “some face-to-face teaching” to pupils in Year 10 and Year 12 to help them prepare for exams.

But Cllr Chan argued there is limited evidence to suggest it is safe to do so and urged local authorities to pressure the Government into rethinking its position.

“Their policy threatens to add to the disproportionate impact of the current pandemic on working class people, especially those who are poorer, older or from black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities,” he said.

“Properly funded, decent education accessible to all ought to be at the heart of everything we do.

“Returning to school is vital for young people, especially for those of our students who are less advantaged.

“It is not, however, acceptable to sacrifice the welfare of young people, educators, their friends and families, and the wider community.”

He urged Brent to support the position put forward by unions and some councils – including Liverpool City, Haringey and North of Tyne – in only opening schools when it is safe to do so.

A spokeswoman for Brent Council explained that decisions on the wider re-opening of individual schools would be taken by the “appropriate authority” – most likely the respective Governing or Trust Boards.

She said: “The overriding priority must be to keep everyone involved in the potential wider opening of schools safe from harm.

“The vast majority of schools in Brent have remained open throughout the covid-19 pandemic, supporting children of key workers and vulnerable children.

“The council is now supporting individual schools to ensure that they have plans in place for a potential wider opening in due course.

“This includes updating risk assessments, which schools already have in place, and taking sufficient and appropriate consideration of the latest government guidance and Public Health England advice.”