Commenting on the Government’s decision not to press ahead with plans to bring all primary pupils back to school this term, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“It has taken the government some time to recognise what was obvious to most. The government’s social distancing rules made it impossible for primary schools to admit all pupils before the summer holidays. Primary schools and secondary schools will not re-open to all pupils until September at the earliest. But even that date cannot, as Matt Hancock has recognised, be taken for granted.

“The consequences of Covid-19 are going to be felt in our education system for months to come.  What is needed, now, is a national plan for education, along the lines being developed by the Scottish government. This should cover all possible scenarios and focus on blended learning, at home and at school; greatly increased support for disadvantaged children, including free internet access so that they can access online teaching and learning, and the requisitioning of local public spaces, such as community centres and libraries, so that pressure on school space is lessened and more children are able to return to school in safe environments.

“The government must also plan for a second spike. 

“Pupils in years 10 and 12 are facing an uncertain future. They have lost a considerable amount of teaching time in school.  The government must work with Ofqual to redesign GCSE and A level qualifications so that they are fair for all pupils – including those without access to computers at home.

“The scale of the challenge is immense. We need a national recovery plan for education along the lines of the job recovery plan.”