Schools in Salford are 'highly unlikely' to reopen to all pupils in the government's priority year groups, the council has declared.

The Prime Minister last week revealed that providing the virus transmission rate is low enough, then primary schools will reopen to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from June 1.

There has been widespread opposition to the move, not least from teaching unions who say it would put teachers and pupils at risk.

Salford council has now joined other local authorities, including Manchester council, in saying that the opening date is 'highly unlikely'.

In a letter to parents, its education bosses said: "Salford City Council is committed to supporting all schools to safely open for more children. However, this will be a gradual approach towards the government’s ambition, and we are supporting schools in seeking answers to their questions to make appropriate plans.

"Headteachers, with the full support of the local authority, will only be welcoming the number of children back into their schools, that they deem to be safe and therefore the timescales set nationally may not be followed.

"This number of children attending may increase as the summer term progresses, but this will be driven by a robust risk assessment process. The safety and wellbeing of our children and staff is of paramount importance."

The letter states that schools, colleges and other settings 'will have to develop their own flexible plans and work at their own pace from 1st June in order to start to safely and gradually increase the number of children attending at any one time'.

"For this reason, in our primary schools it is highly unlikely that children in the identified priority year groups will be able to attend school full time," it adds.

"Schools are likely to have to prioritise certain year groups and not make an offer to them all."

A parent of a Year 6 pupil at a primary school in Swinton said it would be unfair to have some pupils from a class brought back and not others.

She told the M.E.N: "I'm not too happy with the idea of them choosing the pupils who can return.

"My daughter will be devastated if they don't include her, she's in Year 6 and desperate to complete her final months of primary."

In stressing there 'cannot be a uniform approach across the city in response' to the government's announcement, the council told parents that 'any return for children and young people will not look the same as before COVID19'.

"Schools are considering of how best to support our children and young people at this time, with a focus on their mental health and emotional wellbeing as well as their learning," the letter states.

The town hall also failed to carry out any autism awareness training for its staff - meaning that more people could have been affected by the same problem, the regulator’s investigation suggested

"This pandemic has brought with it stress, uncertainty and anxiety for all of us, including our children and young people. We all want to get our children and young people back into education as soon as possible and we want to reassure you that everyone in Salford’s education community is working together as hard as they can during this time to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our children and plan for this first phase of wider opening."

The decisions from Manchester and Salford councils follow that of other authorities across Greater Manchester.

Yesterday we reported how Bury council said schools there will not reopen on June 1, with high levels of Covid-19 and 'unclear' guidance over social distancing among the reasons for staying closed.

Rochdale council has written to parents to warn them not to expect schools to open at the start of the month, stating they 'do not want parents to rely on a date suggested by government, that schools may be unable to meet'.

Wigan council has also informed parents that the June 1 date is not set in stone and Stockport council has confirmed its schools will not open until June 10 at the earliest.