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Boris Johnson ‘fully intends’ to get ‘all children’ back to school in September despite u-turn on primary reopenings

Boris Johnson said all schools would reopen by September (PA)

2 min read

The Government “fully intends” to get all year groups back to school in September, Boris Johnson has confirmed.

It comes after ministers were forced to backtrack this week on plans have all primary pupils spend four weeks in school before the summer holidays.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said the rate of coronavirus infection was “not yet quite low enough” for the return to classrooms.

But he insisted the Government will get all pupils back at schools by September - “provided the progress we are making continues”.

Mr Johnson said that this approach was “consistent” with other countries in Europe and was part of his “roadmap” out of lockdown.

He said: “As I have always said, we won’t hesitate to apply the brakes if that is what the situation requires.” 

“That has meant moving slower than we would have liked in some areas. 

“It is because the rate of infection is not yet quite low enough, and because we are not able to change our social distancing advice, including smaller class sizes in schools, that we are not proceeding with our ambition to bring back all primary pupils at least for some weeks before the summer holidays.”

The initial U-turn was announced on Tuesday, when education secretary Gavin Williamson told the Commons the Government would like to see “schools who have the capacity” to welcome more year groups “before the summer holidays”. 

But he was reluctant to commit to allowing all children to return to classrooms, saying only that would “expect more schools to be open to pupils but we will continue to take a cautious approach and to be guided by the advice”.

The PM confirmed his intention to press ahead with September openings on Wednesday, saying: “We do fully intend to bring back all children back to school in September, provided the progress we are making continues, which I hope it will. 

“That is our focus and it is consistent with the approach that has been taken by many other countries in Europe.”

He added: “In the meantime, we must stick to our roadmap. 

“I urge everyone to continue to show restraint and respect the rules which are designed to keep us all safe, and it is only because of the restraint that everyone has shown so far that we are able to move gradually out of this lockdown.”

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