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Schools Minister questioned on school closures and plans for reopening

22 May 2020

Schools Minister Nick Gibb, will face questions from the Education Committee on the science behind school closures, plans for reopening and how the DfE is protecting the most vulnerable children during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chair's comments

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"There is huge and understandable concern that every day our young people are away from the classroom harms their prospects, with disadvantaged pupils at particular risk of falling behind still further. Increasing evidence suggests that a significant number of children from disadvantaged backgrounds have not had access to online learning, or even any education at all. The Children's Commissioner has warned that these children particularly are exposed to 'a cocktail of secondary risks' during the lockdown.

Dedicated teachers and support staff have been working hard over the last couple of months to ensure children get the best education possible from home, but there can be no substitute for them being back amongst their friends at school, learning again and getting the vital pastoral care that schools provide.

I know there is much debate over how and when to reopen our schools, but everyone involved in education will be united in their commitment and determination to do the very best for our young people. It is important that reopening is guided by the science and we will be pressing the Minister on what is being done to ensure the safest possible learning environment for pupils and staff.

The Committee is also dedicated to protecting our most vulnerable children and will be asking what is being done by the DfE to help disadvantaged pupils catch up and protect them from the worst effects of the pandemic."

Witnesses

Wednesday 27  May - the session will be held virtually

At 9.30am

  • Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Standards
  • Andrew McCully, Director for Early Years and Schools, Department for Education

Purpose of the session

The session is part of the ongoing inquiry into the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on education and children’s services and is likely to focus on the criteria required for schools to reopen and the scientific advice that underpins them, as well as what needs to be done to ensure disadvantaged pupils are not further left-behind further as a result of the pandemic.

Members are also likely to want to raise the issue of free school meal vouchers and the role of Edenred and could also question the Minister on the online learning offer, exam cancellations and calculated grades.

Further information

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