Coronavirus: Preventing School Closures

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Schools and Educational Settings (Essential Infrastructure and Opening During Emergencies) which has been introduced to the House of Commons by Robert Halfon MP.

I understand that Bill proposes to make a provision for educational settings, including early years, schools, colleges and universities to be classified as essential infrastructure and therefore remain open to all students during public health and other national emergencies.

I am aware of the impact that school closures have had on pupils of all ages across the country, and therefore the reasons behind introducing the Bill.  However I can assure you that the Secretary of State for Education is committed to keeping schools open as a priority and ensuring that face-to-face learning continues throughout the academic year.

More broadly, I am encouraged by the large package of support that the Department has provided as part of the education catch-up programme.  In total, £4.9 billion has now been made available to fund a range of measures to cover the impact that school closures has had on the education sector. Primary schools will continue to benefit from an additional £145 per pupil, whilst the amount per eligible pupil in secondary schools will nearly double.

Further, it provides £324 million in 2024-25 for additional learning hours for 16-19 year olds. I am encouraged that £1.4 billion is also being provided as part of the package, to deliver up to six million tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils and to expand existing teacher training and development. This will progress the Department's ambition to train up to 500,000 teachers over the next three academic years.

Thank you again for contacting me.