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.



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  1. Tracy Doyle

    I predict that this will involve paying large amounts of money to a few big organisations, rather than filtering it down to schools so that we can actually provide something meaningful.

    Look at the £10k for each school for digital access – we keep getting emails from companies wanting us to sign up with them but no money actually comes to us (in fact, we are ineligible for support as we are ‘too advanced’)

    • As long as the expectation isnt on schools and teachers to man this I think this is a brilliant idea. However teachers at my school and those I know in other schools in my borough have been working flat out since lockdown on providing as much virtual education as possible as well as remaining open for keyworker and rec y1 and y6. Certainly every teacher I know in my borough more than deserves their summer holiday.

  2. Excellent news. Will it come to pass before or after the promised laptops for PPG pupils arrive? Cynical I know but HMG is so low on credibility why not deliver on some previous promises before announcing more? Maybe even under promise and over deliver just for the sake of variety.

    School leaders and families deserve better.

  3. Janet Downs

    Vague words about a ‘massive catch-up’ for left-behind pupils ignore the realities. Schools need to prepare for a September opening in twelve week’s time. They do not need distracting by having to provide remedial classes especially when there are no details attached. Primary schools have already wasted energy on attempting to open on June 1 – a policy which has now been abandoned.

  4. Jane Mitchell-Barnes

    Has the government spoken to unions about this? The way for this to work is to ask teachers if they are willing to volunteer to teach during the summer. I would expect a huge number to say yes. Then make a plan about to do it safely and for which year groups. Do not announce to people who have been working through this pandemic that you expect them to work through their holidays!

  5. Charlee

    What about the teachers that have been working all the way through this… the added risk assessments and stress means they also need a break! Especially those teaching primary, infant and special needs children! Trying to keep them safe whilst teaching them with a quarter or the resources they had before?

  6. Christina Davies

    People seem to think children have just been doing nothing during the lockdown- the majority of parents have been working very hard to keep up to date with work provided- how will continuing this very stressful process with no extra support, provide children teachers or parents with a helpful solution- children, parents and teachers need a break and those who haven’t been doing the work in term time are even less likely to do it in holiday time.

  7. Jan Walker

    Where is the educational rational for sending young children who would struggle with social distancing back weeks before year 10 and 12 who can distance and have exams next year. Seems that this is due to getting the parents of children who cannot be left at home back to work, rather than educational priorities.
    Many children and parents have been doing their level best to keep on top of school work at home since mid March and are in need of the summer break, some have not been able, it isn’t fair to either group to put more pressure on, at this already difficult time.
    If the government really want to help, ensure every child has a laptop and access to the internet and that teachers are recording lessons or links to programs which cover the topics being missed. With easy to follow instructions to expand on learning after watching. It was understandably a mess at first but we may have this for a long time and it isn’t getting any better.

  8. Giraffe

    All very well but ignoring the fact that most teachers, and particularly those in leadership, catering, site management, have been working flat out since March and are already burnt out. School staff need a break as well where they can switch off and recuperate ready to welcome back and effectively support the pupils when they return in September and be at their best to help them ‘catch up’. I really hope the this programme does not involve school staff but outsources to other organisations who have been closed during this time. Providing the right resources for pupils, allowing school staff a break and giving those business a much need boost as well!

  9. Something that is not clear, how are school expected to fund this? Teachers are not paid for working in the holidays, they are paid for their hours and this is spread over the year. Without a massive input of funds how exactly are they planning to get teachers to keep teaching, catering staff able to provide food for children, buildings continuing to be open and running, cleaning staff available? All of which require money, when schools are already severely lacking funds from a government that has consistently cut this.

  10. I suspect this vague idea will not engage the students who are genuinely a concern, the ones who are hard to reach, don’t have supportive families and are actively disengaged and at risk of being lost, specifically those year 11 students at risk of being NEET. All it will do is aggregate already burnt out teaching staff who have spent the past few months on an incredibly steep learning curve and satisfy some middle class, pushy parent mindset whose children don’t need any further input! All it will do is alienate an already put upon profession and reinforce the social divide!!!!

  11. Sarah-Jayne

    As a single working mother of one. My little boy hasnt seen or spoken to another child in months. He is desperate to interact with his peers. We have done plenty of home learning but nothing will ever compare to the experience he will have at school. I was trying to be sensible do what’s best for everyone by allowing a few weeks of “easing off measures” across the country to see whether there was a dangerous spike or whether things remain stable before deciding to send my son back to school. The shops have just opened, more to open this week and now I’m being told summer holidays will continue as normal?!! I fear this will have a huge psychological, physical, social and emotional impact on my son. 6 months with no child interaction, no real playing- something has to be done