Schools will open in June at the earliest with primary kids first as millions begin Government-launched virtual classes


MILLIONS of kids start home learning tomorrow — amid talks about some schools reopening by the summer.

However, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson refused to set a date for children to return.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson refused to set a date for children to return to school

He said he wanted “nothing more” than to see kids back in the classrooms across the nation — but he shot down rumours school gates would open again next month.

Instead, education chiefs are discussing plans for limited opening in June at the earliest.

Even then, sources said it was likely that primary schools would open first — as they have in Denmark.

After what would have been the two-week Easter break ended, children will tomorrow start virtual classes launched by the Government.

Mr Williamson said: “People are anxious to know when we are going to relax restrictions.

“When schools are likely to be fully back and open again. I want nothing more than to see schools back, get them back to normal, make sure that children are sat around, learning and experiencing the joy of being at school. But I can’t give you a date.”

He said schools would open when other lockdown measures are eased. That will be when five tests first outlined by stand-in PM Dominic Raab last Thursday were met.

They include protecting the NHS’s ability to cope, ensuring a drop in the daily death rates and having reliable data to show the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels.

Speaking from Downing Street today, Mr Williamson issued a thank-you to the schoolchildren across Britain who were all doing their bit by staying at home, in a bid to beat the virus.

He said: “I wanted to say to you how sorry I am. that you’ve had your education disrupted in this way. I know how hard it must be. And I’d like to thank you for making the adjustments that you’ve had to make.

Rumours of schools reopening next month have been shot down, with education chiefs dis­cussing plans for limited opening in June at the earliest

Children will start using virtual classes launched by the Government, where 180 classes have been created to be used from reception to Year Ten

“I know that you’ll be missing your friends, your teachers, your lessons.

“And I want you to know that you are such an important part at this point too.

“And I cannot thank you enough for all that you were doing.”

Pupils will tomorrow log on to the Oak National Academy where 180 classes have been created by more than 40 state school teachers.

They have uploaded classes designed to be used from reception to Year Ten.

Teachers can download the materials to use for their virtual classes from tomorrow and 180 new lessons will be provided each week.

Mr Williamson said: “This is a totally new initiative, led by 40 brilliant teachers who have assembled video lessons and resources for any teacher in the country to make use of if they wish to do so.”

He added: “I recognise all challenges that families will be facing at the moment and we’re determined to support parents who are helping their children learn from home. I think we all know how difficult that can be.”

As well as the online learning, Mr Williamson unveiled a package of measures that will see vulnerable and disadvantaged kids offered IT equipment and free 4G internet packs.

He said the Government was working with telecoms firms to make educational resources exempt from internet data charges.

Primary schools in Denmark this week opened their doors again after being in lockdown, and Mr Williamson confirmed that the Government was monitoring their situation. French schools will also open again early next month.

Teaching unions welcomed the official announcement that schools would not reopen here.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said speculation was “irresponsible” and added: “I am pleased that the Secretary of State for Education has moved to set the record straight immediately.

“Any return to school must be led by the best scientific and medical advice available. But any return to school must be planned in dialogue with the profession and be accompanied by robust safety measures for pupils, parents, school staff and the wider community.”

It has emerged a third of kids are taking part in online lessons, but private school students are twice as likely as state school pupils to do so every day, a poll by the Sutton Trust education charity revealed.