School class sizes could increase to ‘bubbles’ of 30 pupils, Education Secretary says


Gavin Williamson said the Government is looking at returning class sizes to 30 pupils as he hinted England will reduce the two-metre rule.

The Education Secretary said the Government is looking at creating larger “bubbles” to allow class sizes to expand in time for the autumn term.

He told Friday’s Downing Street briefing: “We’ve been creating bubbles of children in the classroom, creating a protective environment for those children.

“Currently that is at 15, what we would be looking at doing is expanding those bubbles to include the whole class.”

He said signs the virus was reducing meant ministers could look at “making sure every child returns to school”.

It comes after the Northern Ireland Executive agreed that social distancing of one-metre as opposed to two is “safe and appropriate” for children and young people at school.

Asked about this, Mr Williamson said England was actually much “further ahead than Northern Ireland” with the range of children that have already returned to school.

He added: “But this is why we’ve said clearly that we are going to be publishing the further guidance within the next two weeks so that schools have the maximum amount of time to prepare for the next phase of welcoming children back.”

It comes after Boris Johnson made a similar hint that social distancing rules may be relaxed.

The Prime Minister said to “watch this space” when asked whether social distancing restrictions could be cut to help schools to return in autumn.

He also said today it is his intention that children of all ages in England should be able to return to school on a five-day-a-week basis in September.

His comments came as the Government announced a £1 billion plan to help pupils catch up with learning.

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