Gavin Williamson 'absolutely sure' unvaccinated kids won't be banned from enjoying freedom

24 February 2021, 19:12 | Updated: 26 February 2021, 07:46

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Gavin Williamson has said he is "absolutely sure" children who aren't vaccinated by the summer will be prevented from enjoying the freedoms offered to their vaccinated peers.

The Education Secretary was asked by LBC’s Ben Kentish if the Government would prevent a situation during the summer where young people and those who are not vaccinated would be stopped from going to the cinema, for a meal or on holiday.

He replied: "I think, as a dad myself with two daughters, I think the novelty of going for walks with me is starting to run a bit thin now, and they want a slightly more enhanced entertainment.

"So I think, as a dad's point of view, I'm very desperate to make sure that they're able to enjoy the benefits of opening up, society opening up, different parts of the economy, and being able to get out there.

"So I'm absolutely sure we're not going to be disadvantaging our young people to be able to enjoy the benefits of stepping out into the world so much more than they've been able to."

Mr Williamson also hailed the Government’s school funding programme to help pupils catch up from Covid disruption as “truly transformational for the lives of hundreds and thousands”.

Ministers announced an extra £400 million of funding on Wednesday, on top of £300 million that was pledged in January.

As part of the package, summer provision will be introduced for pupils who need it the most, such as incoming Year 7 pupils, while one-to-one and small group tutoring schemes will be expanded.

At Wednesday's Downing Street press conference, the Education Secretary was asked by Ben if he could guarantee inequality in education would not widen due to lack of coordination over the catch-up programme.

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The responsibility for organising funding will be down to individual schools, leading to concerns that inequality which has already grown during the coronavirus crisis will continue to worsen.

“This resource that’s available to all schools around the country, we want to see them make use of it, it’s going to be truly transformational for the lives of hundreds and thousands," Mr Williamson said.

He added: "Our regional schools commissioners will be working very closely with local authorities, multi-academy trusts and individual schools themselves in order to be able to ensure we have this level, that schools are meeting our expectations in terms of spending this money on interventions that are really going to help children.

“It’s something that already Ofsted has started to be able to look at and assess and actually giving schools guidance in terms of how best to be able to move forward with this investment that we’re making in them.”

He praised the work of the Education Endowment Foundation, a charity that aims to improve the educational attainment of the poorest pupils in English schools, for “giving very clear guidance about how best we can help”.

“This is part of the reason we did the National Tutoring Programme as well, because there’s so much evidence based around the fact that it really does drive attainment with children, more than any other single intervention,” he said.

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