SCHOOLS could stay open for longer or shorten the summer holidays to give disadvantaged kids more time to catch up on learning lost to the lockdown.
Gavin Williamson said he is looking at “the whole expanse of what we can do in terms of helping children have extra teaching time” over fears millions will be left behind.
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The Education Secretary repeatedly refused to rule out that including schools extending their day or returning during the summer holidays to make up for lost time.
His remarks came as the Government today unveiled a £700 million catch up fund for the kids who have missed out the most while schools have been shut.
Primary schools will get around £6,000 each, while secondaries will receive on average £22,000.
The cash comes on top of a £1 billion pot announced six months ago, and will be used to roll out summer lessons and camps, and for am expansion of the national tutoring programme.
Boris Johnson said: “When schools re-open on 8 March, I want to make sure no child is left behind as a result of the learning they have lost over the past year.”
Mr Williamson said the cash can be used by schools to bring extra teachers in, and also to cover over time costs for existing staff.
And was repeatedly pressed this morning over whether that could mean extending the school day or shortening the summer break.
He said: “We’re looking at a whole range of different actions. What we wanted to do is give schools the extra resources to take action immediately.
“We’re looking at a whole range of different options of how we can support schools, how we can support teachers.
“The best support we can do is seeing children back in the classroom on March 8 – something all parents want to see, all children want to see, and teachers want to see.”
Asked whether or not he expects schools to be open to pupils in the summer for extra weeks, he replied: “We are giving schools the option of being able to draw down on this funding, we always see schools up and down the country doing so much of this.
“I would hope that all schools are able to do that. Take advantage of a funding that’s available target, that resource at those children who are most needed.
“What it does do is it gives schools the extra resource to be able to give extra pay for teachers to do overtime, support staff to do overtime, to help them assist with children to do that extra learning, that extra bit of education, that extra support that goes the extra mile and helps children to be able to bounce back from this pandemic.”
Mr Williamson also revealed that the Government will set out details of how teacher assessments will be used to replace exams this year in the next few days.
He insisted: “As we’ve said many times before we’re not going to be running exams this year, it’s going to be based on teacher judgment.”
His remarks come with schools gearing up to welcome pupils back on March 8 as the first stage of the PM’s roadmap out of lockdown.
They will be expected to carry out three tests on each secondary student over the first two weeks, with parents’ permission.