Schools set to close early for Christmas

Schools set to close early for Christmas

Schools set to close early for Christmas

Schools in England will be allowed to close a day early for Christmas.

In a last-minute decision by the Government they will be allowed to close for the holiday on Thursday next week.

Schools minister Nick Gibb told MPs that schools could schedule an inset day next Friday to allow “six clear days” before Christmas Eve.

He said this would ensure teachers and heads do not have to engage with “track and trace issues” throughout the break.

Last month, the government had told schools in England not to change their Christmas holidays or close early this term in its Covid-19 Winter Plan.

Speaking to a virtual education select committee, Mr Gibb said: “We are about to announce that inset days can be used on Friday December 18, even if an inset day had not been originally scheduled for that day.

“We want there to be a clear six days so that, by the time we reach Christmas Eve, staff can have a proper break without having to engage in the track and trace issues.”

Inset days – or in-service training days – mean teachers will be in schools for professional development but pupils will be absent.

Schools will be allowed to finish term on Thursday next week, but there may be one less scheduled inset day in 2021 if they decide to do this, Mr Gibb added.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), described the announcement of an inset day as a “small concession”, saying they had hoped for “more flexibility than has been granted”.

“A single day is better than nothing, but it still means that school and college leaders will have to continue contact tracing in the event of positive cases through to Wednesday December 23,” he said.

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