Schools will be closed over the summer break, dashing hopes of a “massive catch-up” for pupils who have missed months of lessons.
Downing Street ruled out calls for teachers to offer face-to-face catch-up lessons after schools officially break up in July amid a mounting backlash at how children are falling behind.
This is despite Boris Johnson promising a “huge amount of catch-up for pupils over the summer months,” saying more details would be announced next week.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had told MPs they would close over the summer holiday months.
He confirmed this would apply to key workers’ children too, who have been among the few to stay in schools since they shut in March.
“There would have been a reasonable expectation that parents would expect for schools not to be open over the course of the summer,” the spokesman said.
The Government sparked fury on Wednesday by U-turning on its plan to give all primary pupils four weeks of teaching before the holidays.
The PM was lambasted by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday for “flailing around, trying to blame others” over his schools plan that “lies in tatters”.
Schools had stayed open during the Easter break to help parents keep working through the coronavirus crisis.
This week former Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw called for teachers to provide summer schools for extra pay.
Summer schools have become the new battlefront for teaching unions, who insist online teaching will suffice – despite virtual lessons thus far being scarcely attended.
Two former Conservative education secretaries rounded on ministers on Wednesday, with Justine Greening accusing them of “levelling down” and Damian Hinds demanding “creative thinking” to plug the void in children’s learning.
Robert Halfon, the Tory Commons education committee chair, has called on the PM to build Nightingale schools.
He told the Standard: “The Prime Minister should set out a national plan for the opening of schools, a summer catch-up programme for left-behind pupils, using every building available whether it be school buildings, village halls or unused office space.
“If the NHS can have Nightingale hospitals, why cannot hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children have ‘Alan Turing Schools’ too.”
Just half of primary schools in England reopened last week to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 despite the PM urging them to do so.
As part of its phased reopening of schools, No10 wants Year 10 and Year 12 to return from Monday to resume preparations for GCSE and A-level exams next year, which the Education Secretary has insisted will go ahead.