Gavin Williamson ditches plans to cut long summer school holidays

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson ditches plans to cut long summer school holidays due to ‘fierce union opposition’

  • Gavin Williamson wanted to scrap long summer holidays for summer camps
  • He told friends that pressure from unions forced him to scrap his radical plans 
  • Teaching union NEU may be prepared to discuss general re-opening of schools  

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has quietly ditched plans to end the ‘out-dated’ long summer school holidays.

He has told friends that fierce union opposition has forced him to bury his hopes of using the virus crisis to reform the summer vacation.

One week ago, Mr Williamson said there were ‘currently no plans’ to make up class time lost during the lockdown by requiring pupils to return early from their holidays in August.

Instead, sources suggested that special ‘summer camps’ for children of all school ages could be set up to provide catch-up tuition.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has quietly ditched plans to end the ‘out-dated’ long summer school holidays

But the Mail on Sunday understands that the Education Secretary did originally want to make radical reforms by reducing the length of the traditional summer break.

He told associates he regarded it as an ‘out-dated relic of the agrarian calendar’ when children helped out on the farm. A source said: ‘Gavin certainly holds those views.

‘Amid the current debate over how much vital school time has been lost to so many kids during the lockdown, he was keen to get cracking on extending the summer term into August.

‘Sadly, the trenchant opposition of the unions has put paid to that.’

The revelation comes amid signs that Mr Williamson and fellow Ministers were also bowing to union opposition to a general reopening of schools from June 1.

He has told friends that fierce union opposition has forced him to bury his hopes of using the virus crisis to reform the summer vacation

Only on Friday, there were suggestions that the biggest teaching union, the NEU, may be ready to negotiate a general re-opening of schools from June 15.

Mr Williamson said last week that his department had been doing ‘an enormous amount of work’ on initiatives to make ‘sure people do not miss out as a result of this crisis, looking at how we can make the interventions to support children’.

He added: ‘We are looking at different initiatives that we could maybe look at rolling out during the summer period.’

Mr Williamson stressed that the Government had ‘got elected on an agenda of levelling up right across society’ and that ‘education is the greatest leveller’.

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