Primaries in worst-hit tier 4 regions to stay closed, further delays for secondary confirmed


Primary schools in a “small number” of tier 4 areas with the highest infection rates will be closed to all but vulnerable and key workers’ children – but details of which areas have not yet been revealed.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said today the majority of primaries will open as planned on Monday January 4. However in a “small number of areas where infection rates are highest”, only vulnerable and key worker children will attend school for face-to-face learning.

Primary pupils not attending school will get remote education, and when pupils will return will be subject to a review of data such as infection rates. The full list of areas is published below.

Meanwhile, the staggered start for secondary schools has been pushed back. Pupils in exam years will return to face-to-face learning on January 11, with all pupils back in school on Monday, January 18 (both one week later than previously planned).

For the week starting Monday 4, secondary schools will only be expected to provide remote education for exam year group pupils. This is so schools can prioritise setting up mass testing systems, the Department for Education said.

Williamson said this was because the Covid rate was “particularly high” for secondary-aged pupils. The delay would “allow more time so every school and college can fully roll out testing” which would “break those chains of transmissions and make it safe for more children to return to school”, Williamson added.

The education secretary also said that A-level and GCSE exams will go ahead as planned. He also said vocational exams due to take place in the first two weeks of next term will also go ahead.

Full list of areas where primaries will be closed:


    • Barking and Dagenham
    • Barnet
    • Bexley
    • Brent
    • Bromley
    • Croydon
    • Ealing
    • Enfield
    • Hammersmith and Fulham
    • Havering
    • Hillingdon
    • Hounslow
    • Kensington and Chelsea
    • Merton
    • Newham
    • Richmond-Upon-Thames
    • Redbridge* (added after the first list was published)
    • Southwark
    • Sutton
    • Tower Hamlets
    • Waltham Forest
    • Wandsworth
    • Westminster



    • Brentwood
    • Epping Forest
    • Castle Point
    • Basildon
    • Rochford
    • Harlow
    • Chelmsford
    • Braintree
    • Maldon
    • Southend on Sea
    • Thurrock



    • Dartford
    • Gravesham
    • Sevenoaks
    • Medway
    • Ashford
    • Maidstone
    • Tonbridge and Malling
    • Tunbridge Wells
    • Swale


East Sussex

    • Hastings
    • Rother



    • Milton Keynes



    • Watford
    • Broxbourne
    • Hertsmere
    • Three Rivers


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  1. Teacher2020

    My goodness, all these resources, just imagine the impact on the environment from the disposal of all these resources once used at a mass scale continuously. I would love to know the comparison in costs if we did a lock down for secondary and rolled out the vaccine to exam years(yr 11/13)/staff first so they can return first and then role it out to other years when vaccine is available, whilst they complete remote learning? Just curious.

  2. When the schools were closed during lockdown earlier in the year the infection seemed almost under control. I think we came out of lockdown too early, now the infection is raging again yet school children are expected to expose themselves to it every day. I think we should go into a major lockdown where you’d need a permit to leave your home and schools should be closed especially in all tier 4 areas not just the worst hit. The government needs to get this under control now with firm action.

  3. Nigel Vine

    I cannot see the reason why children in Tier 4 areas should be forced to mix with all types of people when we could not mix with our family’s at Christmas time, people we know are reasonably well and safe!!

  4. Harriet Coles

    It’s safer at present to have the secondary students tested for Covid,then sent home for home learning .Teachers could be available online for those students who need help seven hrs a day . Until the school can prove that the school is clear of the virus to parents and government then and only then would we feel comfortable.Vaccine may help to control the virus,but it will be around for some time.My grandchildren live with us every other week,our son permanently, it’s a joy,now a worry as our area is in Tier 4.My husband and I are in our seventies,and waiting patiently to be tested. Stay Safe.