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