Schools could return on 'phased' basis


Schools could reopen in a phased manner, education secretary Gavin Williamson has told the Parliamentary education committee.

He said the government is carefully considering how pupils can return to schools amid speculation over when and how they will reopen.

Schools are currently closed for all but the children of key workers and those considered to highly vulnerable.

The Sunday Times suggested in April that some year groups may return ahead of others, a matter Mr Williamson was quizzed on by committee chair Robert Halfon.

In response, he said: “This is obviously something that we are giving a great amount of thought to, and giving a lot of consideration.”

He explained that he had asked SAGE to set up a sub-group to look into issues surrounding schools reopening, to ensure that the best scientific and medical advice is available.

“We expect SAGE to report back, and the information we get from SAGE and from Public Health England will be key parts of what informs us to how best we open schools,” he added. “But I do expect schools to be opened in a phased manner.”

Mr Williamson also acknowledged the need for schools to be safe spaces when they do reopen, adding that the advice given to teachers is based on the best research and evidence available.

“It’s incredibly important we get the balance right in terms of making sure we make an environment that is good to learn in, but also a safe environment for people to work in as well,” he explained.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil detailed plans for the easing of the lockdown in the coming weeks, which will include plans for the education system.

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