Children will be back at school in September, vows education secretary Gavin Williamson | UK | News (Reports)

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Launching a full-throttle defence, he insisted that “everyone can be confident that these qualifications carry the same weight as previous years”.

Mr Williamson acknowledged that children will need “lots of support when they return” and pointed to the £1billion “Covid catch-up fund”.

He claims that “two hours of tutoring per week for twelve weeks can result in five months of academic catch up”.

The Education Secretary will be relieved by the latest research from the Office for National Statistics which shows people overwhelmingly expect their children to be back in the classroom when the new school term begins.

A resounding 91 percent of respondents said it was fairly or “very likely” they would be back in school or college.

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The research chimes with a survey of grassroots Conservatives which shows strong support for opening up the country.

Conservative Progress found that 53.9 percent of respondents said the country should “reopen the economy even if there are public health risks”.

Although people expect children to school in September they do have strong concerns, according to the ONS, with more than two-thirds (64 percent) saying they were very or “somewhat worried”.

The top concern (64 percent) is that young people could catch Covid-19. The second biggest worry (47 percent) is about “how prepared their school or college will be for keeping pupils safe”.

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This is followed in third place (44 percent) by worries about “the impact on mental health and wellbeing” of the changes in schools because of coronavirus.

There were also concerns about “social distancing not being enforced” (39 percent) and 38 percent were “worried about sending the children or young people back before there is a vaccine”.

Only 38 percent were worried about the students spreading COVID-19.

The challenges facing young people as a result of the pandemic have been underscored by an analysis by the Resolution Foundation.

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This shows that young people who leave the education system will face grim prospects for jobs and pay.

It is feared that unemployment could hit 12 percent before Christmas with 18 to 24-year-olds leaving school and university most at risk.

Senior analyst Kathleen Henehan said: “The 800,000 young people set to leave education this year could face years of reduced pay and limited job prospects. What’s particularly worrying is that the sectors that have been hardest hit by this crisis – such as retail, hospitality, travel and leisure – are the sectors in which many people get their first experience of work.”

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