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Kids could face long delays before they can return to classrooms as schools will return in a 'phased way'


SOME kids could face long delays before they are back in the classroom full time as schools will return in a “phased way”, it was confirmed today.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said this morning that no date has been set for when schools are back up and running fully.

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And he confirmed that schools will not open through the summer to help kids catch up on the classes they lost out on during the Covid lockdown.

They have been shut nationwide since March 18 – three days before the full lockdown was revealed by Boris Johnson.

Mr Williamson today hinted that some year groups – like reception kids – could be the first to return to class.

And he revealed he has ordered the nation’s top scientific group, SAGE, to work out how to get children back to class safely.

He told MPs on the Education Select Committee today that he is giving “a lot of consideration” to reopening schools in stages.

He said: "Just a couple of weeks ago, I commissioned SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies) to set up a sub group to look at the particular issues of opening schools, making sure that when schools are open it's done in the best possible way with the best scientific and medical advice.

"We expect SAGE to be reporting back. The information we get from SAGE along with Public Health England will be the key part of what informs us on how best we open schools.

"But I do expect schools to be opened in a phased manner."

Mr Williamson said the idea schools will all return “on day one with the full complement of pupils” is “not practical".

He hinted that reception kids could be among the first wave to head back to class, telling MPs he recognises the “important role that reception has in terms of development”.

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Kids are being home-schooled during the lockdown as part of moves to stop the spread of the virus.

Ministers have sorted out BBC virtual lessons with top stars online to try and keep them busy.

And exams will be cancelled thanks to the outbreak this year too, it was confirmed when schools shut.

Instead teachers will have to give kids their grades, and it will be independently assesses based on coursework and other exams taken.

This morning Mr Williamson was under pressure to give every poor kid extra funding to make sure they don't fall behind.

More than 50 MPs have penned an open letter to Gavin Williamson demanding intervention to stop poverty-stricken pupils falling behind.

MPs have warned the school shutdown will widen the education gap between north and south and more needs to be done to help students keep up with their education.

Two thirds of secondary schools teaching the most disadvantaged communities are in the north of England, according to new figures.

They propose a "catch-up premium" of atleast £300million – or £700 for each pupil on free school meals – to pay for 30 minutes of private tuition three times a week for 12 weeks.


In some schools, headteachers say up to 40 per cent of pupils live in a home without a computer, while others have only one device to be shared between siblings and parents.

Top Tory MP Robert Halfon, chair of the Education Committee, said the lockdown could see some kids fall so behind they can't catch up again.

Schools likely won't be open until June at the earliest, Government sources have said.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We will do everything possible to make sure no child, whatever their background, falls behind as a result of coronavirus.

"The government has already committed over £100m to support remote education, including providing devices and internet access to those children who need it most.

"Schools are also continuing to receive additional funding in the form of the pupil premium – worth around £2.4bn annually – to help them support their disadvantaged pupils.

"The department is considering, with a range of partner organisations, how best to support all pupils to make up for time out of school."

Nicola Sturgeon suggested last week that school classrooms may have to be redesigned to keep them apart.

And she said that different ages may have to go back at different times.

It's likely that those with exams coming up, or younger kids with lower risk of Covid-19, will go back first.


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