Limits on school attendance will be lifted from September, allowing classes to return to full capacity, the government has announced.
Confirming speculation overnight, Education secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed schools and colleges will be expected to open their doors from the new school year – with ‘measures’ in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The 15-pupil ‘bubble’ limit will be scrapped – allowing schools to create ‘bubbles’ of a whole class or a whole year.
‘Bubbles’ were introduced as an anti-infection measure – and mean if a member of a class tests positive, the whole bubble has to go into isolation for two weeks.
Limits on nursery group sizes will also be lifted from July 20.
The Education Secretary confirmed schools will be expected to deliver their “full curriculum” from September.
And it appeared to confirm speculation that schools could be expected to repeat elements of previous years’ teaching in later years.
To ensure pupils can catch up on lost learning,” a government release read, “schools will be required to resume teaching a broad and balanced curriculum in all subjects, making use of existing flexibilities to create time to address gaps in knowledge.
“Schools should consider how all subjects can contribute to filling gaps in core knowledge.”
The statement confirms exams will take place in 2021.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I know these past three months have been some of the most challenging that schools have faced. What they have achieved to make sure that young people are kept safe and can continue to learn during this period is remarkable, and I am incredibly grateful for that.
“Nothing can replace being in the classroom, so ever since schools, colleges and nurseries closed to most children, we have been working hard to ensure they can reopen as soon as possible. We have already seen more than 1.5 million children and young people return, but we must make sure all pupils can go back to school in September, giving them the opportunity to thrive and fulfill their potential.
“I want to reassure parents and families that we are doing everything we can to make sure schools, nurseries, colleges and other providers are as safe as possible for children and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said: “Thanks to the hard work of everyone, including our teachers and all school staff, there has been a decline in the rate of COVID-19 transmission in our communities.
“A child’s education is essential to their healthy development – we know that missing too much school can have a negative impact on children’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“Everybody wants children to be safe and thankfully as we have learned more about COVID-19, the evidence has shown that the risk of severe disease in children is low. However, although the number of COVID-19 cases has declined, it is still in general circulation – so it important we ensure schools implement sensible precaution to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 and minimise any risk to teachers and their pupils.”