Gavin Williamson insisted children would not be taught a “watered-down curriculum” when they return – despite what his department’s own guidance says.
At the Downing Street press conference, the Education Secretary said: “It is going to be a full and total curriculum that is going to be delivered for our children across all subjects.
“It’s incredibly important that we have the same standards and rigour across our education system as we come out of lockdown as we had going into it.
“We are not going to be in a situation where we see vital subjects cut out of children’s education.
“So, the idea that there will be a watered-down curriculum is totally, totally untrue.”
But while the guidance asks schools to “teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects”, it also says they will have to focus on covering the “most important” gaps after children missed months at school.
The guidance admits: “Substantial modification to the curriculum may be needed at the start of the year.
“Teaching time should be prioritised to address significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge with the aim of returning to the school’s normal curriculum content by no later than summer term 2021.”
In fact some students may be advised to ditch some subjects to make the most of the teching available.
The guidance said: “In exceptional circumstances, it may be in the best interests of a year 11 pupil to discontinue an examined subject.”
This may be if the school decides “they would achieve significantly better in their remaining subjects as a result” – especially in English or maths.
Mr Williamson said he wanted breakfast and after-school clubs to resume despite coronavirus guidance aimed at preventing children from different year groups mixing.
He said: “We recognise how vital these breakfast clubs are, the wraparound care and provision are, for children, for parents, for families and whole communities.
“That’s why we have been issuing guidance to guide schools to be able to make sure they make this available for parents, for children, because we have all seen with our own children how much they benefit from them.
“We want to see these opening alongside the full opening of schools in September and we are also going to be ensuring that the many activities that often take place on school premises during the summer holidays are going to be taking place.
“We have been sharing that guidance with schools so they can benefit from that as well.”