UK

Return to online lessons in January? Ministers ‘consider DELAYING reopening schools after Christmas’

Return to online lessons in January? Ministers ‘considering DELAYING reopening schools after Christmas’ – just days after Gavin Williamson threatened councils with legal action if they closed

  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson expected to make announcement later 
  • January 4 and 5 return reportedly to be replaced with online lessons  
  • English secondary pupilscurrently have highest covid rates of any age group 

Thousands of secondary school pupils in England face a delayed return to classrooms after Christmas and under plans expected to be unveiled today.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to make an announcement later that the January 4 and 5 restart will be replaced with online lessons amid fears about the spread of coronavirus among teenagers.

More than half of schools in England had coronavirus cases during the first two weeks of November’s lockdown and those aged 12-18 have the highest infection rate of any age group.

Susan Acland-Hood, the top civil servant at the Department for Education, was unable to confirm to MPs today that schools would go back on time. 

Facing the Public Accounts Committee she said there were no plans to extend the Christmas holiday.

But she added: ‘There are conversations going on about exactly how parents and pupils will go back at the beginning of January, but I’m afraid I can’t speak to the committee about that this morning…

‘I cannot communicate a decision that has not yet been made or communicated by ministers.’ 

The move comes just days after Mr Williamson took legal action against London councils which wanted to close schools early before Christmas. 

Susan Acland-Hood, the top civil servant at the Department for Education, was unable to confirm to MPs today that schools would go back on time.

Facing the Public Accounts Committee she said there were no plans to extend the Christmas holiday. But she added: 'There are conversations going on about exactly how parents and pupils will go back at the beginning of January'

Facing the Public Accounts Committee she said there were no plans to extend the Christmas holiday. But she added: ‘There are conversations going on about exactly how parents and pupils will go back at the beginning of January’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to make an announcement later that the January 4 and 5 restart will be replaced with online lessons amid fears about the spread of coronavirus among teenagers

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to make an announcement later that the January 4 and 5 restart will be replaced with online lessons amid fears about the spread of coronavirus among teenagers

He issued a temporary continuity direction to Greenwich Council after it told local schools to move lessons online.  

England’s chief inspector of schools, Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman, blasted councils for taking the ‘easy’ option as parents and children had been left in limbo after the Government became locked in a legal battle with left-wing councils and education unions in an effort to keep schools open.

Meg Hillier, the PAC chairwoman, said today it was ‘ludicrous’ that on the last day of term for many schools in England that parents and school leaders do not know what is happening in the first week of January.

Education newspaper TES reported the delayed return could be for a week.

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