UPDATE: All children to go back to school five days a week in autumn, reveals Education Secretary
The Education secretary spoke for the first time today about the plans the government will announce in full later this week to get all pupils back in the classroom in England at the start of the new academic year.
• All pupils back five days from September
• Bubbles to expand from 15 to 30 ("full class size")
• 1m rule to be dropped in new social distancing for schools
• Parents will face fines if children not sent back
• Plan B for online lessons if local lockdowns close schools
The Education Secretary pledged for the first time this morning that "all children will be back in school in September".
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Gavin Williamson was asked by presenter Louise Minchin:
Are you committed to gettting all children be back in September, five days a week, as it was before?
"Yes," said Williamson, and you can watch the full interview here.
The minister also confirmed that the 1m rule would be relaxed for school children returning at the start the new academic year. He said:
"It's not about 1 metre... it's not about 2 metres... it's about actions to reduce vectors of tranmission including a whole lot of different controls for schools" – Gavin Williamson
There would also be different procedures to address the "more complex" situation in secondary schools where pupils criss-cross between groups and classrooms.
All of the details of the new procedures and guidelines will be released at the end of this week, Williamson promised, but this was the first clear steer that all children will return to full time education in September.
When asked about the current school bubbles of 15 being expanded, the Education Secretary confirmed that there would be larger bubble of 30 or "full class sizes" from September.
Earlier in the BBC programme, Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer, said that he wanted to see the PM "get his shoulder at the wheel" and ensure all children return to full time education as a matter of urgency.
"The problems are practical," he said. "They can be solved. Put up temporary classrooms just as we put up hospitals like the Nightengale or use empty community centres and libraries."
Also today, the Education Secretary told LBC Radio, that parents who don't send their children back to school in September will face fines.
"It is going to be compulsory for children to return back to school unless there is a very good reason, or a local spike where there have had to be local lockdowns," he said. School will once again be a legal requirement from the start of the new academic year.
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