Millions of children in England have gone back to school after more than two months studying at home in the latest lockdown.
Most secondary schools have started with a phased return this week, as pupils take Covid tests – and face masks will be worn in classrooms.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the return as an important first step towards a “sense of normality”.
UK chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty has said “everything is strongly in favour” of pupils returning to school – with extra safety measures in place, such as testing, the wider use of masks and an early “natural firebreak” of the Easter holidays.
‘Longer school days, shorter summer holidays’
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Gavin Williamson said the government is looking at a “whole range of different” proposals to help children amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re looking at holidays, we’re looking at lengthening the school day, we’re looking at a whole range of measures,” he said.
Williamson said ministers were also considering “enhancing the support we give to teachers, supporting them in their professional development, making sure they can be the very best of themselves”.
Ofsted inspectors have warned that disadvantaged children are more likely to have been adversely affected – and the government has announced £1.7bn to support catch-up schemes, such as tutoring and summer clubs.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for schools to have “catch-up breakfast clubs”.
There have been concerns about children’s mental health during the pandemic – and a study by researchers at the universities of Essex, Surrey and Birmingham reports a “significant rise in emotional and behavioural difficulties”.