'We are working towards sending children back to school in June', senior officals at Essex County Council have confirmed.

Bosses at the council have rebuffed claims they are opposing Government plans to re-open schools on June 1.

ECC have rejected claims, which surfaced in the Guardian newspaper in recent days, that ECC have been 'casting doubt' over plans to re-open primary schools next month.

In an email sent to all councillors, which the Echo has seen, councillor Ray Gooding, who is responsible for education and skill, has urged parents not to believe the "incorrect" story.

The Guardian had claimed Essex County Council were part of a nationwide council rebellion to oppose the re-opening of schools on June 1.

Mr Gooding said: "Our position on this is quite clear.

"Our approach to the reopening of the schools is that this should be carried out on a cautious basis to ensure that all children have the best access to education and that the associated risk assessments, prepared by schools, are paramount in determining the approach that is taken in individual settings."

In an earlier letter to parents, Claire Kenshaw, director of education at the council, said: "We are working with schools to support their plans for a gradual and phased re-opening. 

"Their plans will be guided by a thorough health and safety risk assessment taking in to account their physical capacity on the school site and staffing levels. 

"We know that you will understand that the safety of everyone in the school community is paramount. 

"We all want to get more pupils back into school as soon as it is safe to do so. 

"However, in supporting schools to re-open in a phased and gradual way, the first priority to consider will be the health and well-being of all pupils and families and the staff."