A GROUP representing headteachers in the North-East has come up with a "roadmap" to reopen schools, including calling for school staff to be vaccinated.

Schools North East is calling for proper planning to make sure schools can be opened safely, avoiding further disruption for staff and pupils.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he hopes it will be safe to commence the reopening of schools in England from Monday, March 8.

A statement by Schools North East, which represents about 1,150 schools in the region, said: "As the return to school in both September and January were fraught with difficulties, thanks to widespread disruption, unclear guidance and U-turns, it is clear that a spring reopening needs to be properly planned and thought through by policymakers."

It wants to avoid a repeat of the start of the school term in January, which saw some schools open for a single day before telling all but the most vulnerable and children of key workers to stay at home.

Headteachers have expressed frustration with how the government has communicated its plans.

It has produced a six-point road map with practical steps it says will help schools open safely and remain open.

It is calling for greater communication with school leaders prior to public announcements, an assurance that schools will get two working weeks' notice, and an allowance for local decision making, rota systems and the prioritisation of key groups of pupils.

It has also joined calls for school staff to be prioritised for vaccines.

It says: "As critical workers, the health of school staff must be a priority. Teaching staff are working in close proximity to large numbers of children, with little PPE, placing their own health at significant risk.

"It is integral that prior to wider reopening school staff are offered the vaccine."

Labour has already called for school staff to be vaccinated over the half term holiday, while more than 100 headteachers have also written to the Government on the subject.

The National Education Union (NEU) has also called for school staff to get the vaccine before they reopen.

Schools North East also says there should be an allowance for schools to have rota systems and to prioritise key groups of pupils as well as scope for local decision making and flexibility.

It adds: "We believe that reopening schools is of the utmost importance, and that school is the best place for children to learn, where this is safe and feasible.

"The decision to reopen schools must not be a rash one, and must be properly thought through and planned for in order to prevent the issues and disruption seen since the beginning of the autumn term.

MPs are due to debate proposals for getting back to school on Thursday, February 25.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said schools and colleges will get at least two weeks’ notice before pupils return to the classroom so staff can prepare.