Ministers consider changing the school year to keep pupils in class for longer during the summer term when windows and doors can be left open to reduce risk of coronavirus spread
- Boris Johnson said schools in England will reopen from March 8 at the earliest
- Ministers said to be looking at changing the school year to help pupils catch up
- The proposals could see the summer term in England extended by two weeks
Ministers are considering changing the school year in England to keep classrooms open for longer in the summer term to help pupils recover from lockdown, it was claimed today.
Number 10 is said to be weighing up a two-week extension in the warmer months, cutting into the summer holidays, with the holiday time redistributed to existing breaks in the autumn and winter.
One of the attractions for ministers of potentially extending the summer term is that the weather would allow windows and doors to be kept open in school buildings to improve ventilation and reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.
Many schools across England are due to break up for the summer holidays on Friday July 23.
A two-week extension would therefore see pupils continuing to attend class during the first week of August.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the earliest schools in England can reopen is March 8
Boris Johnson has said schools across England will not reopen until March 8 at the earliest.
The Prime Minister has said he will publish a lockdown exit strategy later this month amid mounting pressure from Tory MPs to bring forward a return to classrooms.
Changing the school year is one of a number of options being looked at by Number 10 as the Government develops its plans to help students catch up on lost time.
It is thought the two weeks of lost summer holiday could be added to the autumn half-term and the Christmas holidays, according to the Sunday Times.
Extending those holidays would also provide a longer so-called ‘fire break’ in the colder months, providing more time for infections to fall.
Robert Halfon, the Conservative chairman of the Education Select Committee, told the newspaper that the change to the school year is under consideration by ministers.
He said: ‘We have to reform the school year. There has to be change; things cannot carry on the way they did pre-Covid. From my discussions with No10, everything is up for debate.’
The Welsh government has already suggested it could move to extend the summer term.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that some private schools are preparing similar plans amid fears that Mr Johnson could delay a return to the classroom beyond March 8.
Some private schools are looking at bringing forward the Easter holidays to make more time for the summer term.
Ministers are said to be considering extending the summer term to help pupils catch up after lockdown
Geoff Barton, from the ASCL head teachers’ union, said changes to the school year should not happen now.
He said: ‘It’s nice to think about doing things differently, and this is the moment to rethink them. But anyone trying to force that through this summer will find people are just craving getting back to normal.’
It emerged last week that ministers are also considering plans to extend the school day.
The idea is being pushed by some Tory MPs and the Government is said to be receptive to it but union bosses are opposed to the move.
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