THERE are calls for Swindon schools to open up their facilities during the summer holidays to keep children on the straight and narrow.

Labour councillor Carol Shelley is worried pupils who have missed out on being in the classroom during lockdown could fall prey to exploitation and crime.

And she says schools can be used to make sure those youngsters are given a healthy routine before the 2020/21 term starts in September.

Coun Shelley, her party’s spokesman on children at Swindon Borough Council, said: “I think more can be done to help those who have not enjoyed a very positive time over the last few months to be helped to catch up with those who have had a much more positive time.

“I think it has affected all secondary-age children, but the 11 to 13-year-olds haven’t been into school at all during lockdown.

“We’re hearing a lot about groups of young people hanging about and it’s easy for them to get into trouble or for others to be distrustful of them.”

Coun Shelly thinks school buildings and ground and facilities could be opened up for activities before lessons start again.

She said: “I’m not saying teachers should keep working through the holidays. They’ve been working hard through all of this, but the buildings could be used for activities.

"I think we need to think a bit harder to find things to do to get these young people into a good routine, to let them know what’s expected in terms of distancing and hygiene measures when they go back to school in September.

“Schools have all those playing fields and sports facilities – wouldn’t it be great if they could be used for football, for hockey, for training to get all those children into sport and healthy activity.

“Schools have been given money, councils have been given money, we were told to spend what it takes – this is something useful for many young people.”

Cabinet member for education Russell Holland said: “We are following the government guidance, and we will be guided by those regulations.”

The council’s director of children’s services David Haley added: “School are taking measures to address this.

"They are looking at weighting the curriculum heavily to core subjects and enhancing their online offer with a special focus on catching up, and we are working with school to support them.”

Mr Haley added that the council will also be running activities to help.

He said: "There will be lots of material in the summer reading programme at the libraries to provide a catch-up element. The programme is not really an educational thing, but there will be that element to it.”

Swindon's Central Library opened this week with a call, click and collect service for borrowers, The borough council’s four other libraries at North Swindon, West Swindon, Highworth and Park will do the same on July 27.