PM promises a ‘huge summer of catch up' for pupils

Summer ‘catch-up’ programme to be unveiled by Gavin Williamson next week, says Boris Johnson

Drawing rainbow

Prime minister Boris Johnson has today revealed that plans are being drawn-up for pupils to catch up missed work over the summer, and will be announced by the education secretary next week.

Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson said: “What we’ll be doing is a huge amount of catch up for pupils over the summer months and the secretary of state will be announcing and setting out a lot more next week about the catch-up programme.”

Mr Johnson also confirmed that the government is working towards returning all pupils to school in September.

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Pledging "a massive catch-up operation over the summer and beyond", the prime minister said: "We're going to keep making sure that kids get the remedial help that they need for the stuff that they've missed for months and months to come so that they genuinely make up for lost time."

He rejected suggestions education had not been a priority, saying: "There are plenty of other EU countries that are not getting primary schools back at all or until September.

"So we're going as fast as we can, we still have a pandemic to cope with."

He added: “Of course we would like to be in a position where we could have got the remainder of primary [pupils] back for a couple of weeks before the summer holidays.”

But he said that because of the “continued prevalence of the disease” it was currently not possible to change the safety measures within schools.

"It is because the rate of infection is not quite low enough and because we are not able to change our social distancing advice, including smaller class sizes in schools, that we are not proceeding with our ambition to bring back all primary pupils at least for some weeks before the summer holidays," Mr Johnson said.

Speaking alongside England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, the prime minister added: “We’re taking a more cautious approach than some European countries but are slightly ahead of others and I think that’s the right place to be.”

Mr Johnson thanked teachers for their efforts in keeping schools open during lockdown.

He said: “We do fully intend to bring all pupils back to school by September - provided the progress we are making continues.

He said: “53,000 [people] have it [the disease] right now and there are 35,000 new cases a week [and] clearly we have got it right down but it’s not quite down far enough to change the social distancing measures within our schools.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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