A NUMBER of schools across Hampshire are closing  amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Some schools in Southampton, West End and Test Valley are partially closing due to COVID-19 and staff having to self-isolate.

Meanwhile Saint James’ Church Of England Primary School in Moorgreen Road, West End, is understood to be the first Hampshire school to have decided to close in full until April 20.

Headteacher Michelle Marsh said it was an “incredibly difficult” decision to take but she had no other choice as following yesterday’s government announcement many school staff members have to self-isolate.

NASUWT the teachers’ union is calling for “clear and definitive” directions for schools claiming that a lack of clear information is causing “chaos and confusion”.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it is “continually” reviewing how best to support schools.

It comes as yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a raft of measures to try and control the spread of the virus.

These included avoiding gatherings and crowded places and 12 weeks of self-isolation for people in at-risk groups.

Schools closures were not ruled out but have not been implemented yet.

However, the new measures have left schools across Hampshire having to face staff shortages.

Ms Marsh, from Saint James’ Church Of England Primary School, said following the government’s announcement 11 of the 19 teachers who work at the West End school were unable to work today meaning the school had to close.

“We decided that the issue was not that this is a public health issue but rather a health and safety issue and I no longer have enough staff to remain operational,” Ms Marsh added.

She explained that students have been given books and online information to study at home and said she is in talks with food banks to see how to support children on free school meals.

She added: “ I didn’t feel comfortable grouping pupils in even bigger groups. While the children remain in a low risk group other adults who work in schools may not. I think consideration needs to be given to school staff.”

She praised the work headteachers are doing and said that as far as she knows Saint James’ Church Of England Primary School is the only Hampshire school to have decided a full closure.

“But I don’t think I would be last one. I fully respect the government decision to try to keep them open as long as possible,” she added.

Nick Giles, headteacher at Chamberlayne College for the Arts in Weston, Southampton, said his school also had “a “significant amount of staff self-isolating”.

He added: “That does make running a school more challenging but our staff are really working hard together to maintain education for those students that are attending school. We’ve sent a number of students and staff home today in accordance with government guidelines. Personally I believe schools should be closed for normal business but remain open in some guise for children of parents who are key workers and have no childcare and/ or for children who need free school meals. We remained fully open today but have decided to close to one year group for the remainder of the week due to staff absence. Parents can send their children in if they wish however and we will provide a meal to free school meal children to take home if parents wish them to.”

Other Southampton schools such as St Anne’s Catholic School and Brookfield Community School are partially closed due to a shortage of staff.

Ms Chris Keates, Acting General Secretary of the NASUWT – The teachers’ union said the Prime Minister failed to give “the clear and definitive directions necessary to enable individuals, organisations and services to be confident in the decisions they are making or to provide the reassurance and assurance that people need at this time”.

Mr Keates added: “Schools are struggling with ever diminishing staffing levels and are being driven to make arrangements for changes to staff working conditions which have the potential to compromise the health and safety of staff and pupils. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. The UK Government must now make a definitive decision about the steps being taken to protect the school workforce and the closure of schools.”

In a statement the DfE said: “We recognise schools are facing numerous challenges as a result of coronavirus, and we are continually reviewing how best to support them.Yesterday, the Education Secretary met with organisations representing school leaders as part of ongoing engagement to ensure the outbreak has the least possible impact on children’s education, and assure them that any actions taken will be based on the latest medical and scientific guidance.”

The DfE has set up a dedicated helpline for parents, teaching staff and education leaders.

Both Hampshire and Southampton Councils have been approached for comment.


Here is the full list of schools which are closed;

St Anne’s Catholic School, Carlton Road, Southampton is partially closed due to a shortage of staff – the school is closed for year eight and nine students.

Brookfield Community School, located on Brook Lane, Southampton is partially closed due to a shortage of staff – the school is closed to year nine students.

Fareham Academy, in St Anne’s Grove, will be closed to year 9 and 10 students. While on Thursday it will be closed to yes 8 and 10 students.

Hounsdown School, located on Jabob’s Gutter Lane, Totton is closed to year eight students due to staff shortages.

Saint James’ Church Of England Primary School, located on Moorgreen Road, West End, Southampton is a full closure due to a number of staff having to self isolate.

Test Valley School, located on Roman Road, Stockbridge is closed for the rest of the week to year eight and nine students.

Bitterne Park School, located on Dimond Road, Southampton will be closed on Wednesday to year eight and nine students and on Thursday to year seven and 10.