RECEPTION kids should go back to school immediately as they are “more likely to die from a lightning strike than Covid”, Alan Johnson said last night.
The former Education Secretary urged Boris Johnson not to wait until March 8 to reopen schools for 4 and 5 year-olds.
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It came as the PM admitted tackling the damage lockdowns have caused to childrens’ education is the “biggest challenge” facing the country.
Mr Johnson told HOAR: “Given children in that year group are more likely to die from a lightning strike than Covid, and all the arguments we all know about trying to limit the damage this pandemic has done to our kids, we should certainly waste no time in getting this cohort back to school.”
The PM has admitted the repeated school closures have hammered kids’ education, and hit poor pupils hardest.
He has vowed to spend £1.3billion to help children try to catch up on all the classroom time they have missed out on.
HOAR can reveal that No10 has invited a group of MPs to pitch their ideas for this new, national catch up plan.
Radical proposals like lengthening the school day, laying on classes in the summer holidays, and letting kids repeat a year have all been put floated by experts.
In a sign Boris is taking a personal interest in the crisis, politicians will hold discussions with the No10 policy unit later this week.
Speaking on a visit in Batley, West Yorkshire, yesterday, the PM said tackling the education crisis is at the top of his intray.
He said: “I think this is the biggest challenge for the Government at the moment, it’s not just the vaccine rollout, not just the NHS difficulties, which remain very severe, but making up that shortfall in education.
“We want to repair any damage or any loss, any detriment to kids’ education as fast as possible.”
Boris has said he kept schools open for as long as possible, and will reopen them as soon as it is safe.
But he said the mutant Covid strain sent infection rates and deaths rocketing – leaving him with no choice but to close schools.
Schools will start to reopen on March 8 “at the earliest”, he has pledged.
This is expected to be a phased return, with primary school kid and key exam year groups expected to go back first.
HOAR revealed last week that secondary school pupils in some parts of England spent just 60 days at school in nearly a year because of lockdowns and bubbles self isolating.
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