THE former head of Ofsted believes it might be necessary to consider cancelling summer holidays and for some pupils to resit the year as a result of lost ground in schools. 

Former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw also said it is time to reopen schools, but warned it is "critical" that parents are confident it is safe to do so.

He said: "It is all right opening up schools but if parents lack that confidence they are not going to send (children) in.

"It seems to me that the Government have got a real part to play here making sure that parents have the evidence."

Speaking on Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Sir Michael said he understood why some teachers are reluctant to reopen schools, saying: "Social distancing with five-year-olds is a bit like herding cats.

"It is really important that the Government get the confidence of parents and teachers and they should lay down very clear guidance and rules under which schools should operate.

"It is no good saying we are going to let schools do what they want because some schools will do it extremely well and other schools won't.

"Some schools will ensure there is a triage system in place, there is temperature testing and classrooms are intensively cleaned and so on.

"Other schools might not be doing that so it is really important that the Government is very prescriptive in what they would expect schools to do."

Sir Michael said local authorities should be given the responsibility of policing safety standards once schools reopen, adding: "The Government really should have spent that last three months preparing the ground well, holding meetings with the parent and teacher associations to make sure all the facts are there.

"Transparency is absolutely critical and families who don't necessarily read all the research from the research bodies need something to go on to make that balanced judgment, and I am not sure they have received that."

Sir Michael also said research showed disadvantaged students had suffered the most from the shutdown, adding: "(Schools) have really got to ensure that recovery programmes are put in place - that might mean working in holiday periods, it might mean weekend work with examinations due.

He said the UK could see a "lost generation" of young people as a result of the shutdown.

"It is a great tragedy because our education system has made huge progress in the last few years," he said.

The crisis, he said, could be averted if head teachers were committed to "recovering lost ground".

He added: "That means convincing teachers to work the extra hours, come in at weekends and holiday periods and really intensive work they do with youngsters, particularly in examination groups.

He also criticised Ofsted for failing to monitor schools' remote teaching practices during the lockdown.

"Inspectors should be surveying the country to see what is happening, particularly in disadvantaged communities to see whether youngsters have got laptops, for example.

"I know that some schools I am in touch with are struggling to buy laptops for children in necessitous circumstances, so Ofsted should be doing this survey and informing Government what the position is on the ground so the Government can take the necessary action."