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Key points: £700m School Fund

Posted on February 2021 By Jamie Southwell

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In preparation for the return of schools opening on March 8th, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson presented the briefing tonight. Alongside him was England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jenner Harries.

Key points from the conference:

  • The Education Secretary begins by informing us the total number of vaccinations has now surpassed 18 million, pathing the way of schools to begin reopening by March.

  • Williamson is appreciative of the situation for children and young people right now saying he is grateful for their "patience and resilience" as the adaption to online learning continues.

  • Reiterating the steps outlined earlier in the week, primary school pupils will return on March 8th and secondary school & college pupils will return over the week. Practical university pupils will return as well, but the rest will remain online.

  • A review for the timing the remaining students will be able to return is to take place by the end of the Easter holidays adds Williamson.

  • Government announces a £700 million education support package to be spent assisting students to catch up on lost learning because "young people cannot afford to wait".

    • £302 million will go towards a "recovery premium" package built around primary and secondary schools to provide summer schooling, clubs, and activities.

    • £200 million to be spent on further funding face-to-face summer schooling for secondary students, allowing for teachers to decide which pupils shall benefit.

    • £200 million will go towards an increased national tutoring programme to benefit primary and secondary school pupils with the addition of 16-19 year olds.

    • £18 million to be spent on funding for early-years language development in order to catch up those who missed valuable time building up their English skills.

  • ​Williamson says the criteria for how grading will work and be awarded for those receiving their results this summer, is going to be revealed tomorrow.

  • Unless social distancing can be maintained, face coverings should be worn at all times in secondary school and higher education settings states the Education Secretary to "help reduce transmission" as the risk of health to children is "incredibly low".​

  • Press questions start with Lauren from Tonbridge asking if lifting the limits of all social contact on June 21st includes PPE indoors. Dr. Jennie Harries responds saying "ventilation is really important" however, with summer approaching it is possible we may see less PPE use with rates dropping.

  • The next question is about whether all children can receive help if needed from Branwen Jefferies at the BBC. Williamson doubles down on the promise by mentioning the "flexibility" of the funds will ensure those who need it, will receive it.

  • Ben at the LBC asks Jennie Harries if the 10 day quarantine period needs to be lengthened as the Kent variant studies show it infects people for a period of 13 days. She confirms it is being looked into, but the time of detection does not determine the infection period and may vary in others so everything is being taken into account.

To read the key points from previous government coronavirus conferences click here