Education Minister Nick Gibb rules out cancelling school holidays to help children catch up on learning as he says teachers ‘need a break’ after ‘working phenomenally hard’ during coronavirus crisis
- Nick Gibb said it is ‘not the intention currently to erode the school holidays’
- There have been calls for holidays to be shortened to help students catch up
- Education Minister said teachers ‘need a break’ because of coronavirus crisis
Education Minister Nick Gibb today ruled out cancelling school holidays to help pupils catch up on learning as he said teachers ‘need a break’.
The Government has faced calls to shorten or even scrap holidays in the coming months in order to give students more time in the classroom after six months of disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis.
But Mr Gibb told the Education Select Committee that it is ‘not the intention currently to erode the school holidays’.
He said time off would allow children to do their own studying while also giving teachers the opportunity to recharge their batteries after ‘working phenomenally hard over this period’.
Nick Gibb today ruled out cancelling school holidays to give students more time to catch up on learning
The chairman of the committee, Tory MP Robert Halfon, asked Mr Gibb if he believed school holidays should be cut to ensure students can catch up.
The minister replied: ‘No, I don’t. Those holidays are necessary for the students to do their own work and to study.
‘Also teachers have been working phenomenally hard over this period and they do also need a break during those school holidays.
‘It is not the intention currently to erode the school holidays.’
The Government is adamant that exams will go ahead in 2021 after the closure of schools meant they had to be scrapped this year.
But there are concerns that ongoing disruption caused by localised outbreaks of Covid-19 could harm pupils’ preparations.
Mr Gibb told the committee: ‘The policy is that we expect schools to sit exams, we expect all students in year 11 and year 13 who are studying for exams to take those exams.
‘We have been working very closely with Ofqual and the exam boards, certainly to begin with on the timing issue and we have already announced there will be a three week delay to the timing so they will finish on July 2 and start after the May bank holiday half-term.
The Government is adamant that pupils will sit exams next year after school closures meant this year’s had to be scrapped
‘That means a constrained marking time and that is an issue that we are dealing with with exam boards and we are working through other contingencies now with the exam boards.’
Asked whether using teacher predicted grades could be an option if exams have to be cancelled again, Mr Gibb said: ‘I have been very clear that we want students to take exams and we are looking at contingencies about what happens in worst case scenarios.’
The Government will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the exam results debacle seen this summer after a flawed algorithm used to calculate grades prompted a furious backlash and embarrassing U-turn.
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