A revised plan for a staggered return to school next term has been announced today by the education secretary, in recognition of rising rates of Covid infection.
Primary schools in areas particularly badly affected by the virus will provide face-to-face education for vulnerable children and children of key works only for at least two weeks from Monday (see list below), while the majority of secondary pupils will not return to school full-time until 18 January – a delay of two weeks to the start of term, Gavin Williamson said today.
Alternative provision and special schools will all return to face-to-face education from the start of term as planned.
Mr Williamson's announcement confirms the news broken by Tes yesterday, outlining the plan for secondary school returns.
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The government's plan for the school return, in full, is as follows:
- The majority of primary schools will open as planned on Monday 4 January.
- In a small number of areas where the infection rates are highest, only vulnerable pupils and children of critical workers will attend face to face (see list, below, but includes every London primary school).
- This list of areas has been published today on the Gov.uk website. It will not include all Tier 4 areas. The areas will be reviewed regularly.
- Ongoing testing for primary school staff will follow later in January.
- Secondary schools will open only to vulnerable pupils and children of key workers in the week beginning Monday 4 January,
- All pupils in exam years will return during the week beginning Monday 11 January.
- The rest of secondary students will return full-time on Monday 18 January.
- Testing will be prepared in the week beginning Monday 4 January.
- Testing will begin from Monday 11 January, with exam students at the front of the queue.
- Vocational exams are to go ahead as planned.
Confusion on remote education
- Mr Williamson's statement in the commons was that in secondaries in the first week of term, "exam year groups will continue to have lessons remotely in line with what they would receive in class, and only vulnerable children and children of critical workers will have face-to-face teaching".
- The DfE was then originally reported as saying that remote learning would not need to be offered to other year groups in the first week.
- However, a DfE email sent to heads on Wednesday night stated that secondaries should "prioritise resources for remote education for exam year groups... and to all other years as resources permit"
- The DfE press office then confirmed this position, saying that in the first week, secondaries "should provide some remote learning where possible for the other year groups"
- In the second week of term, the email to heads stated that "remote education will be provided to all pupils this week prior to return to school or college."
- As for primary schools, in the areas where infection rates are highest, the DfE guidance says it will be applying the contingency framework to primary schools, so those schools will have to provide remote education for all pupils other than the vulnerable or key worker pupils who are having face-to-face teaching.
Primary schools – areas where schools will not fully reopen
- Barking and Dagenham
- Camden City of London
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Kingston upon Thames
- Richmond upon Thames
- Tower Hamlets
- Waltham Forest
- Epping Forest
- Castle Point
- Southend on Sea
- Tonbridge and Malling
- Tunbridge Wells
- Milton Keynes
- Three Rivers