22nd February 2021

Education Policy Institute comments on the PM’s plans for reopening schools

This afternoon (Monday 22nd February) in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister unveiled the government’s plans for the return of all pupils to schools in England on March 8th

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s statement on the reopening of schools, Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“Children across the UK have missed huge amounts learning time in school after nearly a year of disruption, with research showing that the most disadvantaged pupils have taken the biggest hit to their education. It’s therefore essential that we get all pupils back into the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so.

“It’s encouraging to hear from the Prime Minister directly that the decision to reopen all schools on the 8th March has the support of his scientific and medical advisers. We now need to see the government publish this advice in full, to ensure public confidence in the plans and to give assurance to teachers and school staff.

“Extra measures to limit the spread of the virus and to provide mass testing for pupils upon their return are a positive step, but this may not be a straightforward undertaking for all education settings, so the government needs to offer them support so that they are able to deliver this effectively.”


David Laws, Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said:

“After facing challenges following the switch to remote learning this term, pupils and their parents will be pleased to have a plan in place which allows them to return to the classroom in two weeks’ time.

“It is very welcome that the government has recognised the importance of education and children’s wellbeing by prioritising the return of schools – placing them well ahead of other sectors and areas of the economy.

“Now that we have these plans for the return of schools, we need to see this backed up with further support for academic catch up, including a big increase in the Pupil Premium to support the most disadvantaged pupils. The government should also look at summer programmes for young people which have a strong focus on wellbeing and extra-curricular activities.”