Boris Johnson promises 'massive catch-up operation' for pupils will be announced next week

Prime minister Boris Johnson has promised a “huge amount” of catch-up activities over the summer for pupils who have missed education because of the coronavirus.

Johnson added that education secretary Gavin Williamson will be “setting out a lot more” next week about the “massive catch-up operation”.

He was questioned during today’s coronavirus briefing over children being able to go to the zoo, but not going back to school until September after the government dropped its ambition to get all primary pupils back before summer.

Johnson said the government would have liked to “be in position where we have got the remainder of primary back for a couple of weeks before the summer holidays, we wanted to do that.”

But he said because of the prevalence of the disease – with 53,000 people having it at the minute – “clearly we’ve got it right down but it’s not quite down far enough to change the social distancing measures in schools”.

“We’ll be doing a huge amount of catch up for pupils over the summer months, Gavin Williamson [will be] setting out a lot more next week about the catch-up programme.”

He later added the catch up will also run after summer to “keep making sure kids get the remedial help they need for the stuff they’ve missed for months and months to come to genuinely make up for lost time”.

He added this would be an “educational catch up and economic bounce back at the same time”.

He also pointed to other countries such as Italy and Ireland keeping schools shut. “We’re taking a more cautious approach than some, and slightly ahead of others – that’s the right place to be.”

When questioned about not having a plan to reopen schools, Johnson said he has a “very big plan to get all pupils back to school”.

He added he “fully intends to get all pupils back by September if the science and battle against the disease allows it”.

Johnson was also forced to “reject” claims that education had not been a priority, pointing to some countries not bringing pupils back at all until September.