UK Covid LIVE: Gavin Williamson gives A-level and GCSE exams update as algorithms scrapped

He also said it is not compulsory for secondary school students to wear face masks in the classroom but that it is “highly recommended”, adding: “We want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission”.

Live updates

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Labour’s Tahir Ali says a number of his constituents have expressed concern about opening of schools on March 8

Mr Williamson said in response: “What we always want to do is give much assurance to both those who work in schools and for parents and children themselves.”

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Rebecca Long Bailey says guidance won’t be available until end of spring term and calls on Mr Williamson to bring forward guidance

Mr Williamson said: “We’ve set out a very comprehensive plan in terms of pupils’ return to education.”

He claimed Ms Long Bailey had never taken up the “baton for children” to be in school.

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Sir Robert Neill asks what provision will be given to fee-paying students

Mr Williamson said in response: “It’s important that we do everything we can to help all children right around the country.”

He said the guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation is freely available to all schools whether they’re public or private schools.

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Munira Wilson says Government education spending is between 3% and 4% of the annual schools budget

Mr Williamson said in response: “This is very much part of our overal plan in terms of raising standards in education.

“Our ambitions do not stop there. We want to go much further.”

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What scientific evidence is the Education Secretary able to share about how vulnerable teachers are to coronavirus?

Mr Williamson said in response to the question from Mike Wood: “When Chris Whitty stands at the podium and makes it clear about the need for children to be able to return to school, I think it is an incredibly powerful approach.

“There is incredibly an enormous amount of evidence to show what a safe place that schools are.”

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Labour MP Steve McCabe asks about whether factors such as level of access to IT equipment will be taken into account when assessing

Mr Williamson said in response that “teacher’s assessment is the best” judgement to be guided by.

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Harlow MP Robert Halfon raises concern about making “rock cake of grade inflation into the system”

He asked Mr Williamson how the Government plans to ensure that there will not be a “wild west system of grading”.

Mr Williamson said in response: “This is why we have been doing so much work with the exam board and Ofqual to ensure that there will be proper internal checks as well as external checks.”

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“Testing is going to be a very important part of keeping classrooms Covid free” says Williamson

Mr Williamson said schools have “readily adapted to this testing regime” and that 97 per cent of education settings had set up asymptomatic testing.

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Gavin Williamson responds to comments from Kate Green

The Education Secretary said he didn’t want to be in a position where he “pre-empts the work of JCVI” when it comes to deciding when teachers and education staff will be vaccinated.

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Kate Green says students, teachers and staff have faced seven months of uncertainty

She said guidance won’t be available until the end of spring term which will leave teachers facing more anxiety.

Evening Standard – News