The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he can’t give a date when schools will reopen, and has announced measures to help education continue outside of the classroom during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking during Sunday’s Coronavirus press conference from Downing Street, Mr Williamson said;
“People are anxious to know when we’re going to relax restrictions, when schools are likely to be fully back and open again,”
“Of course, I want nothing more than to see schools back, get them back to normal, make sure the children are sat around, learning, and experiencing the joy of being at school.
“But I can’t give you a date.
Mr Williamson said he “knows how hard it must be” for children who have had their education disrupted. Schools in England closed on 20 March, while schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also closed the same week. GCSE and A-Level exams were also cancelled.
Mr Williamson backed an “online classroom” being launched on Monday to provide a virtual curriculum for students. The Oak National Academy, which has been backed by nine multi-academy trusts, is to provide hour-long lessons and resources including videos, quizzes and worksheets. Mr Williamson said, “180 video lessons will be provided each week across a broad range of subjects for every year group from Reception through to year 10.”
The Education Secretary said a further £1.6 million has been given to Childline and the NSPCC to help children and adults who are seeking advice and support during the school closures. He added, “We’re also working with major telecommunications providers to exempt certain educational resources from data charges so that this does not add to household expenses that might be very stretched at this moment.”
Mr Williamson also praised parents who were home-schooling their children during the lockdown.
It was also announced at the weekend that disadvantaged children going through the most key stages of their education will be given free laptops and tablets in order to make remote learning easier, however, the exact details of who may receive the devices are unclear at this stage.
Photo Credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)