Gavin Williamson announcement: What did the Education Secretary say in his speech today, Wednesday, February 24?

GAVIN Williamson led tonight's coronavirus press briefing (Wednesday February 24, 2021) live from Downing Street.

The Education Secretary updated the nation on the Government's plan to see all children back in school from March 8 as part of Boris Johnson's roadmap to exiting lockdown. Here's what we know…

? Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

What time was Gavin Williamson's announcement?

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson held a Downing Street press conference today (Wednesday, February 24, 2021) at 5pm.

Mr Williamson addressed the plan of action for kids returning to school, after Boris Johnson announced all children will return to class from March 8, 2021.

The Education Secretary was joined by deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries at the latest briefing.

Mr Williamson began by thanking teachers, support staff and parents for their hard work during the past year before thanking young people for their patience and resilience. 

What did he say about the risk of children going back to school?

Gavin Williamson revealed at tonight's press conference that 18.2million people have now had the Covid vaccine across the UK as the rollout continues to go from strength to strength.

He also insisted tonight that lockdown easing won't be sped up despite demands from Tory MPs.

The Education Secretary outlined again the plan to get kids back into school, with plans for kids to wear masks in the classroom, and to have tests twice a week from now on.

And he will confirm plans for kids to get their grades from their teachers this year tomorrow.

Mr Williamson said children will face an “incredibly low risk” from Covid when they return to school on March 8.

The Education Secretary confirmed rules including mask wearing in classrooms and staggered starts and finishes to the day will be put in place.

Speaking at a No 10 press conference he insisted "everything is strongly in favour of children going to school".

He said: "The scientific advice does support a full return for schools on the 8th of March.

"The risk to children is incredibly low from going to school and from catching Covid.

"We are supporting this return with a robust testing regime that will be critical in breaking the chains of Covid infection.

"We’re now advising face coverings should be worn in secondary school classrooms as well as in further and higher education settings unless social distancing can be maintained.

"This is to help reduce transmission, the risk to children themselves is incredibly low.

"This is a temporary measure to support the safe return of schools and will be place until Easter when it's reviewed.

What did he say about exams?

Gavin Williamson said that exams will be scrapped this year with the grading system to be confirmed tomorrow.

The Education Secretary said this afternoon that trust would be firmly put in the hands of teachers as the Covid lockdown is lifted over the coming months.

Speaking at the press conference this afternoon, Mr Williamson said: "Tomorrow, we'll be setting out the details on how grades will be awarded this summer.

"While I cannot pre-empt that announcement, I'm very pleased to say it will confirm this year we are putting our trust firmly in the hand of teachers."

What did Gavin Williamson say earlier?

Earlier on Wednesday morning, Mr Williamson hinted schools could lengthen the day or shorten the summer break to give disadvantaged kids more time to catch up on learning lost to the lockdown.

The Education Secretary said he is looking at "the whole expanse of what we can do in terms of helping children have extra teaching time" over fears millions will be left behind.

The Education Secretary repeatedly refused to rule out measures like schools extending their day or returning during the summer holidays to make up for lost time.

His remarks came as the Government today unveiled a £700 million catch-up fund for the kids who have missed out the most while classrooms have been shut.

Boris Johnson declared: "When schools re-open on 8 March, I want to make sure no child is left behind as a result of the learning they have lost over the past year."

Under new plans teachers will be asked to cut short holidays to help secondary kids with face-to-face lessons before the new school year starts in September.

Ministers want Year 7 pupils to get first dibs on classes, but say they will leave it up to head teachers to pick who should get priority.

How can I watch it?

You can watch the conference from 5pm through various formats.

Viewers will be able to watch the presser on The Sun's official YouTube account.

In addition, our live coronavirus and politics blogs will also provide updates and reports on what is said during the briefing.

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