HUNDREDS of children of key workers were unable to go to school on Tuesday after dozens of schools were forced to implement full closures because of the last-minute lockdown announcement.

In his speech to the nation at 8pm on Monday, Mr Johnson told the public: "Primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers."

However, for many key workers, this was not the case on Tuesday, as some schools were forced to close completely to prepare.

With just hours’ notice, headteachers were forced to make plans late on Monday evening, with many having no choice but to close the school fully the following day.

At least 55 schools in Hampshire announced they were fully closed on Tuesday, including to key worker children.

In Basingstoke, several schools announced they would not open for key worker children, because it was not feasible for them to put in place plans with just hours’ notice.

This left some key workers forced to stay at home to look after their children, resulting in wider disruption to services.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke hospital, said some staff were affected.

She told the Gazette: “Due to the new restrictions implemented across the country this week, a small number of staff either needed to work from home or stay at home to provide childcare on Tuesday while schools prepared for the changes.

“We have good processes in place to manage unexpected absences, whatever the reason, and we always do our very best to minimise impact on patients.”

She thanked staff, local schools, and partners for their “fantastic work” adding: “It’s a challenging time for all and it is inspiring to see everyone pull together and put patients first at these difficult times.”

Great Binfields Primary School, in Chineham, advised parents it would be closed on Tuesday to “prepare for the transition”, before opening for key worker and vulnerable children today.

Oakridge Infant and Junior Schools also closed for all children on Tuesday, implementing an ‘emergency INSET day’.

At Manor Field Junior School, in Popley, headteacher Paul Shakespeare was in school from 7.30am on Tuesday morning to answer calls from parents before opening for keyworker children that day. 

Ed Dawson, headteacher at Hatch Warren Junior School, told parents on Monday evening: “As you can imagine the short notice of the announcement has provided us in school with a significant challenge as we plan our response to the ever-evolving situation.”

The school did open for key worker children. 

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of teaching union National Education Union (NEU), told the Gazette that the last-minute announcement had “wasted time and resources” for school staff.

She added: “Everyone in the school community – heads, teachers, support staff, parents and pupils – has been knocked from pillar to post by the indecision of this chaotic government. The Christmas break should have provided a respite, but later guidance and U-turns put paid to that.

“Working time and resources have been wasted. The right decision has finally been made, but we should have got here sooner. The government needs now to follow the science, interpret the data and listen to the profession – they can start by looking at our recovery plan, sent to them in June.”

As previously reported, teaching unions put pressure on the government over the weekend to close primary schools, but the prime minster told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show there was “no doubt in mind that schools are safe”, telling primaries to reopen the following day.

Many schools announced they would be closing, as teaching staff followed guidance from their unions telling them it was “unsafe” to go to work.

Mr Johnson then made a U-turn on Monday, announcing that all schools would close the following day.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “Very few of Hampshire’s 527 schools were closed yesterday. The vast majority were open and providing learning for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. Aside from issues that may require a school to close, such as heating failure, any other issues are most likely to have been as a result of the short notice period and the school’s ability to finalise the necessary arrangements by the start of the school day, the next morning.”