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Key points: Education Secretary

Posted on July 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Today's news conference was led by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who was joined by Dr Jennie Harries, England's deputy chief medical officer. This was the first Downing Street coronavirus briefing for more than a week, since the PM announced the end of daily coronavirus briefings last month.

Key points to take away from today's speech are:

  • Mr Williamson said pupils' safety is his "top priority" and thanks staff at schools, colleges and nurseries who have made a return of children possible. "Now that infection rates are falling... from 20 July we can lift restrictions on early years settings," Mr Williamson says.

  • From the autumn, when all pupils return, the government is asking schools to minimise contact by, for example, staggering the start and end of school days and reducing congestion in corridors.

  • From September, all schools and colleges will be given a number of home-testing kit for staff or pupils who can't get to a testing centre. "We expect exams to be going ahead in the summer of 2021," Mr Williamson said.

  • Asked about out-of-school clubs, Gavin Williamson said they are "vital" and that's why guidance for schools on making them available is being issued. He adds that he wants them to open alongside the "full opening" of schools from September.

  • Dr Harries said Leicester is a "good lesson" for the rest of the country about retaining social distancing and measures such as hand-washing.

  • Williamson said the government has already given out 200,000 laptops to the most disadvantaged children.  He says ministers are looking to build on online resources offered to children already.

  • The education secretary said the government embarked on "one of the most ambitious" programmes of supplying technical equipment, with 10,000 orders still outstanding.

  • Williamson said a "cautious, careful, staged return" of pupils has been taking place over the last few weeks - following the return of some years last month.

  • "The reality is that we got 1.4m children back in schools already," says Mr Williamson. He adds there is "no one" who would have wanted to have seen all pupils back in school by now more than him.

To read a brief summary of the last briefings points and important measures click here.