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Covid lockdown England: School summer holidays could be shortened, hints Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson hints school summer holidays could be shortened PERMANENTLY as he says government is looking at moving to a five-term year

  • Gavin Williamson hinted five-year school term is being considered for England
  • The proposed system would mean more breaks but shorter summer holidays
  • Government has ordered a review of reform options after the coronavirus crisis 

Gavin Williamson said the government is looking at doing things in a ‘different way’ as it scrambles to help children catch up after the coronavirus lockdowns.

Gavin Williamson today hinted that summer holidays could be shortened permanently as part of a move to a five-term year.

The Education Secretary said the government is looking at doing things in a ‘different way’ as it scrambles to help children catch up after the coronavirus lockdowns.

However, headteachers cautioned against a ‘knee jerk’ introduction of a five-term system, which could potentially mean children having just four weeks off in the summer rather than around six.  

The suggestion of a much deeper overhaul comes days before pupils are finally due to return to classrooms in England on Monday.

There have been warnings that it could take a decade to heal the damage done to the prospects of youngsters – with the most vulnerable suffering the worst. 

Asked in an interview with the i newspaper whether England’s current six-week summer holiday was too long, Mr Williamson said: ‘I think we should never be nervous about looking at new routes and different ways of doing things.’

Pointing to the long-running calls from some experts for a five-term year to replace the current three, Mr Williamson said there had ‘always been a lively and strong debate around actually is the distribution of holidays the right distribution’.

He said: ‘There’s been discussion about five-term years. 

‘It’s right to have that discussion, look at the evidence and make an assessment as to what are the best options, about how we can really drive children’s attainment in schools, especially children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, so this is why we’ve asked Kevan to look at all options.’

Year 10 students wait to take a coronavirus test at the Harris Academy in Beckenham today

Year 10 students wait to take a coronavirus test at the Harris Academy in Beckenham today

Last week the government unveiled another £700million of funding to help pupils catch up. 

The new Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, has been ordered to come up with options for longer term change. 

Mr Williamson suggested he might be asking Chancellor Rishi Sunak for more funding in the coming years, despite the massive pressure on public finances.

‘The Prime Minister and the whole Government have been clear about the priority that it is, and we continue to boost the funding, it’s one of those departments that have been protected.’ 

He said the reform options being considered by Sir Kevan ‘may well need additional investment’.

Amid growing rumours that he is set to be axed in the next Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Williamson painted the priority given to getting schools back from lockdown as an ‘enormous victory’.

And he said: ‘Probably there’s no education secretary that has brought in more cash for our schools and colleges ever before.’

In an apparent appeal for the PM to keep him in the post, Mr Williamson said: ‘It’s a job I absolutely love, because I know what an amazing difference it can make to children’s lives… 

‘I’m incredibly excited about what we’ve got to do over the coming months and years.’

The arrangements for coronavirus testing at the Harris Academy in Beckenham today

The arrangements for coronavirus testing at the Harris Academy in Beckenham today

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