Schools reopening: Williamson looking into summer extension to have pupils catch up

Schools reopening: Edward Argar addresses government’s plans

Health Minister Edward Argar was on BBC Breakfast to address the Government’s plans to reopen schools. Mr Argar revealed that the Education Secretary is looking into extending teaching in the summer to make up for lost teaching time during the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to BBC host Louise Minchin, the Minister said that Mr Williamson was “looking at everything” to limit further disruption to children’s education.

Ms Minchin addressed reports that the Government is considering extending school holidays in England to make up for “lost time.”

Mr Argar said: “I know that my colleague the Education Secretary is looking at everything that he can do to make sure that kids and young people’s education are not disrupted any more than they already have been.

“It is really important, we have seen in some of the reports on your programme and in some of the studies that have been done by Cambridge University and others the impact that not being in school can have on children.

“Not just on their learning and education but also on anxiety, on their mental health and on their social relationships.

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“So it is quite right that Gavin is looking at a whole range of things,” continued Mr Argar.

“To see how we can make sure the impact on them is minimised to the extent that is possible.

“But it would be premature for me to comment on what may or may not be what he does announce in due course.”

English schools are currently due to finish for the summer holidays on July 23.

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A two-week extension would push their closing back to early August.

According to the Sunday Times, the lost two weeks would then be added to the autumn half-term and Christmas holidays.

These extended holidays would also then act as a “fire-break” in case the pandemic makes a comeback towards the end of the year.

Schools in England have been closed, except for the children of key workers, since early January.

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Whilst children very rarely suffer severely from coronavirus infection it is feared they can still pass it on to others.

Boris Johnson has already warned schools in England will not reopen for the children of non-key workers until at least March 8.

However, with Scottish schools returning on February 22, some Tory backbenchers are demanding this time table is sped up.

Speaking to the Sunday Times Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Education Select Committee, said the Government is considering a number of options.

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