Schools have been closed since March 20 in an unprecedented move. GCSEs, AS and A-Level exams will be awarded in July based on mock date and individual teacher assessment for the first time ever. Many have questioned the accuracy of these results, particularly for black and minority ethnic, working-class and marginalised students, who may not get the outcome they deserve.
Will school summer holidays 2020 be cancelled due to COVID0-19?
In short, no. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said teachers and students would not have to work through the six-week summer holidays.
Teachers are due holidays, and many of them have carried on working for children of vulnerable or key workers or preparing home work.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to outline schools reopening in a “phased” manner as unveils the Government’s ‘road map’ for getting the country out of lockdown.
The Prime Minister is understood to be giving his address on Sunday afternoon. One Whitehall source said: “It’s still some way off. It’s far too early to put a date on it.
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“Schools will be out for a little longer yet but they’re definitely a top priority.”
No date has yet been confirmed for schools to reopen, as Mr Williamson previously refused to provide a date for the matter.
He did, however, say he is considering children of all ages returning on a rota basis so they can catch up on what they missed during the lockdown.
Mr Williamson said he is “giving a lot of consideration” to reopening schools in phases and has asked for SAGE’s help in plotting children’s safe return to school.
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He told MPs: “When we bring schools back – and I think everyone wants to see schools returning – they will be returned in a phased manner.”
Teaching unions across the country and Ireland are warning officials not to reopen them too early, for fears of another spike in cases.
The British Irish Group of Teachers Unions has written to the education ministers of all five nations which they represent.
The letter warns of the “very real risk of creating a spike in the transmission of the virus by a premature opening of schools”.
It adds that test and trace measures must be fully operational before schools can go ahead and open.
The letter states there must be:
“Significant operational changes in place to ensure effective social distancing” in schools.
Strong hygiene routines linked to thorough cleaning procedures.
Appropriate protective personal equipment, where needed.
The letter was signed by leaders of 10 teaching unions, including the National Education Union, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers, which represents the bulk of teachers in England and Wales, and Scottish and Irish teaching unions.
Mr Williamson was quizzed by newly appointed shadow Secretary of State for Education, Rebecca Long Bailey, on when there would be clarity on this subject.
He said: “In terms of the return to schools, obviously she, I’m sure, shares a desire with me to see children being given the opportunity of returning to school when it is the right time to do so – and this will be based on the scientific and medical advice that we receive.
“I can assure her that we will take a phased approach in terms of opening schools and we will always aim to give schools, parents and, of course critically important, children the maximum amount of notice in terms of when this is going to happen.”
Mr Williamson added that there “was no substitute for a child being in a classroom, learning directly from a teacher”.
It is expected that children in the last year of primary school and those in the pre-GCSE years will be prioritised upon returning.
Schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were closed in the last week of March, with Irish schools closing slightly earlier.
NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said much more needed to be done to “equip schools for the road ahead” and he said the Government had been “premature in its off-the-record briefings about school re-openings”.
He said: “There should be no mad rush to reopen schools. It must be done with great care and alongside a profession who feel confident about safety measures being adequate and fit for purpose.
“Parents also agree with us – they have shown immense patience in recent weeks, for which all school staff are grateful.
“But that goodwill and effort from the public will be squandered by returning pupils too hastily. Safety must come first.”
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