Williamson wants all pupils in school from September

Education secretary scraps plan to get all primary pupils back this term – but says exams will go ahead next year

Amy Gibbons and Catherine Lough

Coronavirus: Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said it will not be possible to get all primary pupils back into school for a month before the summer holidays

The government is planning to open schools to all pupils in September, the education secretary has said.

Speaking today in the House of Commons, Gavin Williamson confirmed that the government is not able to open primaries to all children for a month before the summer.

He also said exams will take place next year, despite "considerable disruption" to students' education caused by the pandemic.

News: Planned summer return for all primary pupils ‘dropped’

Related: Schools facing 'crisis' unless DfE acts, says Greening

Coronavirus: Ministers 'listening to teachers' on school reopenings

Mr Williamson said: "We continue to follow the best scientific advice and believe that this cautious, phased return is the most sensible course of action to take.

Coronavirus: 'Cautious' reopening of schools

"While we are not able to welcome all primary children back for a full month before the summer, we continue to work with the sector on the next steps, where we'd like to see schools who have the capacity to bring back more children in those smaller class sizes – to do so, if they are able to do, before the summer holidays.

"We will be working to bring all children back to school in September."

He added: "I know students who are due to take exams in 2021 will have experienced considerable disruption to their education this year, and we are committed to doing all we can to minimise the effects of this.

"Exams will take place next year, and we are working with Ofqual and the exam boards on our approach to this."

Mr Williamson said he was "immensely grateful" for the way teachers have responded to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

He added: "The safety of our children, young people and staff remains my top priority."

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Amy Gibbons and Catherine Lough

Latest stories

Teacher mental health: There has been a big increase in staff signed off with stress, new figures show

‘Teachers cannot be mental health professionals’

Supporting young people with mental health challenges will need a big investment, says children and families minister, but she argues the government's latest funding will provide the money needed
Vicky Ford MP 10 May 2021