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‘No plans’ to lengthen Christmas holidays but talks going on about ‘how’ pupils will return

Covid-19


The government doesn’t have “any plans to lengthen” the Christmas holidays, but “conversations” are ongoing about “how” pupils will go back, the Department for Education’s top civil servant has said.

Appearing in front of the Parliamentary public accounts committee, DfE permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood was quizzed about reports that ministers are considering a delay to the start of term.

Asked whether schools would still return on January 4 or 5 as planned, Acland-Hood she her department wanted as much education provided to children in January as possible, and “we don’t have any plans to lengthen the Christmas holiday”.

However, she added: “There are conversations going on about exactly how parents and pupils will go back at the beginning of January, but I’m afraid I can’t speak to the committee about that this morning.

“I’m afraid that we really understand how important it is that we give clarity soon, and there are conversations going on, but I can’t comment on news stories this morning, I’m sorry.”

Chair Meg Hillier said it was “ludicrous” that Acland-Hood was unable to confirm details given schools will break up today and tomorrow, but the top civil servant said she “cannot communicate a decision that has not yet been made or communicated by ministers”.

Asked when an announcement would be made, Acland-Hood said: “We all appreciate that if there is going to be any change it needs to be communicated as soon as possible and that means today.”

During the hearing, MPs received word that ministers are due to issue a written statement to Parliament on education later today.

Asked if that concerned the decision about January, Acland-Hood said: “I believe so.”



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2 Comments

  1. Helen Goodhand

    Key workers and vulnerable secondary school children should return if necessary, but remote learning for the rest. If cases reduce significantly and once transmission amongst this age group reduces and is controlled, introduce a rota system to reduce contact with increased testing.

  2. kerry Targett

    I have just finished my school for the term and as I was bidding staff and students goodbye I was hearing through social media that we would be teaching remotely in the first week back to support the decision to run mass testing from schools again a decision shared through the press rather than direct to the headteacher. I could not imagine working with my own staff in such a reactive manner. They wouldn’t stand for it they would walk put complain to their unions and refuse to support. Yet as leaders we are treated with disdain and totally disrespected. I have a family of my own and a school of 1000 students and 130 staff. I am on my knees today needing to just stop and take stock. Yet within an hour of school closing I am now having to change all plans for next term and consider how best to share this with my stakeholders accepting they too need to rest and recharge. It is insulting and a total shambles…as well as unappeptable in the way it is being communicated. I am lost for words and fast running out of energy