Education Secretary unveils September school reopening plans, from mandatory attendance to larger 'bubbles'

2 July 2020, 12:38

Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed the Government's plans for reopening schools for all students in September.

Today, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced in the House of Commons plans for reopening schools for all students in September 2020 in England.

At the moment, schools in England have reopened for certain year groups, but some parents are making the decision to keep their kids home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September, however, all children will be expected to return for the new school year, with parents facing potential fines if their children do not attend.

Addressing the House of Commons today, Gavin Williamson said that they were doing "everything we can" to make sure schools, nurseries and colleges are "as safe as possible".

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Gavin Williamson announced the changes in the House of Commons
Gavin Williamson announced the changes in the House of Commons. Picture: PA

He said that the education recovery is critical to this generation of school children, and that the Government have been working "to enable all pupils to go back to school full time in September".

Mr Williamson said that COVID secure measures will be in place so that they have the "opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential".

Today, the Government have published guidelines for schools in England which have been developed with experts from Public Health England.

Included in these guidelines, the Government have outlined that schools will continue to minimise contact between children by "grouping children together and encouraging older children to distance."

The current restrictions on class sizes will be lifted, going from 15 to 30 students in each 'bubble'.

The Education Secretary said that financial support to help children catch up on learning will also be offered in a £1billion COVID catch-up package
The Education Secretary said that financial support to help children catch up on learning will also be offered in a £1billion COVID catch-up package. Picture: PA

In September, when it will be mandatory for pupils to return to school, there will be staggered start and finish times, as well as breaks.

The mixing of these bubbles in canteens and assemblies will be avoided, and pupils will be prohibited from sharing items.

Hand washing regularly will also continue to be encouraged in students and teachers.

Gavin Williamson also said that they will make sure testing is readerly available so that teachers, parents and students can feel confident about returning to classrooms.

From September, they will be asking schools to return to a "broad and balanced" curriculum, and they expect exams to go ahead in the summer of 2021.

'Bubbles' in schools will be allowed to rise from 15 pupils to 30
'Bubbles' in schools will be allowed to rise from 15 pupils to 30. Picture: Getty

The Education Secretary also added that financial support to help children catch up on learning will also be offered in a £1billion COVID catch-up package.

From September, there will be a reintroduction of mandatory attendance for all students.

Mr Williamson announced that from July 20, nurseries, childminders and other early year providers will not have restrictions on group sizes so children can play and learn together.

Mandatory attendance in England schools will return in September
Mandatory attendance in England schools will return in September. Picture: Getty

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: "I know these past three months have been some of the most challenging that schools have faced.

"What they have achieved to make sure that young people are kept safe and can continue to learn during this period is remarkable, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

"Nothing can replace being in the classroom, so ever since schools, colleges and nurseries closed to most children, we have been working hard to ensure they can reopen as soon as possible."

He went on: "We have already seen more than 1.5 million children and young people return, but we must make sure all pupils can go back to school in September, giving them the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential.

"I want to reassure parents and families that we are doing everything we can to make sure schools, nurseries, colleges and other providers are as safe as possible for children and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case."

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