Gavin Williamson warns allies he faces an ‘enormous battle’ to keep secondary schools open in January

2 months ago 21

EDUCATION Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned he faces an “enormous battle” to keep secondary schools open in January, it was reported.

A crunch meeting between Downing Street and Department of Education officials is due to be held on Monday to decide when schools will open.

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The government has yet to commit to schools opening in January

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The government has yet to commit to schools opening in JanuaryCredit: PA:Press Association

Gavin Williamson is said to have an 'enormous battle' on his hands to open schools

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Gavin Williamson is said to have an 'enormous battle' on his hands to open schoolsCredit: PA:Press Association/PA Images

It comes after scientists warned the new strain may be more easily spread among younger children.

Mr Williamson is said to have privately expressed concern that so-called Covid “doves” in Government, who are more in favour of restrictions, could close schools. 

A well-placed source told the Sunday Telegraph the Education Secretary is “facing an enormous battle” with “lockdowners.” 

“Gavin is trying to keep them open, which is why he rolled out the testing stuff early,” said the source.

The Department for Education announced earlier this month secondary pupils would return over a staggered timetable in the new year while mass testing was rolled out in schools.

The plan is for GCSE and A-level exam students in Year 11 and Year 13 to go back as normal after the Christmas break on January 4.

Students in Years 7 to 10 and those in Year 12 will start the first week of term online rather than in class.

But week Boris Johnson was unable to commit to all kids returning to school as planned in January.

The Prime Minister would only say that he wanted to get schools back "if we possibly can".

Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons education committee, warned that “schools opening and closing like a revolving door” risks “damaging the life chances of our next generation”. 

In response to the threat of closures, former Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood called on the Government to deploy troops to carry out tests on pupils so that more schools can remain open.

Tory MP told The Mail on Sunday that the use of Army medics to check whether youngsters have Covid could prevent school gates being locked.

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The Ministry of Defence is considering his plan to introduce a ‘train the trainer’ system so Army medics can give teachers lessons on conducting safe tests.

The former Army officer said the successful use of soldiers to test hauliers queueing at Dover in recent days showed what could be achieved.

“We have seen how effectively military personnel worked to clear the backlog on the approach to Dover, and previously in Liverpool where they provided mass testing against the virus,” he said.

Priti Patel hints schools may close for all of January with mutant Covid strain spreading fastests in kids

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