Watch: We'll close schools if it's in 'best interests' of children and teachers, says Williamson

The government will close schools if medical and science advice tells ministers it is in the best interests of children and teachers, Gavin Williamson has said.

The education secretary has released a video, in which he seeks to reassure headteachers about the government’s work to support them, and thanks staff for their “ongoing cooperation at this difficult time”.

Williamson said current medical and scientific guidance “indicates that at this stage, schools and other educational settings should remain open”.

However, he said that “if there comes a point when the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser tell us that closing schools would be in the best interests of children and teachers, “we will take this step”.

Williamson also said he was working with representatives of schools and headteachers to “draw up a full package of measures to support schools to stay open and focus activity on supporting the children and young people in their care”.

“Whether you are a parent or a teacher, I want you to know that your wellbeing and that of your children is the absolute priority for me and my department.

“This extraordinary situation is going to make demands of us all, and we must carry on working together to get through it.”

Apart from suspending Ofsted inspections, as revealed by Schools Week last night, no further details on the package of support have yet been released.

Williamson added teachers are doing everything they can and are “on the frontline of our national effort”.

He acknowledged staff shortages are presenting challenges, but said how “deeply grateful I am for their civic and community leadership”.