SUMMER holidays could be slashed with a five-term year and longer school days in the biggest reform since the Second World War, the Education Secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson gave the biggest hint yet that the six-week break could be cut in an interview this morning.

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The embattled minister, who has the lowest rating of Boris Johnson's cabinet, said the idea was being reviewed by the Government’s education catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked about the plans by Sky's Sophy Ridge, he said: "It's whole range of different proposals, the five-term year, lengthening of the school day, but also enhancing support to teachers and making sure they can be the very best of themselves."

Pressed on summer holidays, he said: "We're looking at holidays, we're looking at the length of school day, a whole range of measures.

"We're asked Sir Kevan Collins to leave no stone unturned."

And he likened the potential changes to the 1944 Education Reform Act, enforced after the Second World War.

"How we can be transformative in terms of changing and improving for young people?" he said.

"What will have biggest possible impact?

"That's approach we're taking."

And the programme of changes could even come into effect this summer, he suggested.

"I've asked Sir Kevan to look over a period of 18 months," he said.

"It's a whole series of changes being looked at – there won't be one day where it's all announced."

The Sun reported at the start of this month Williamson was considering “major changes” to how schooling can be overhauled in the wake of the pandemic and Sir Kevan would be in charge of the radical shake-up.


Ministers have already announced that summer schools will be laid on this August to help pupils badly affected by the lockdowns.

Mr Williamson was also quizzed on exams during the interview – as Ms Ridge asked: "How on earth can you expect exam results to be fair and consistent?"

In January it was announced that GCSE and A-Level exams have been axed this summer – and teachers will be responsible for assigning grades.

"We always start on the basis that the best form is assessment is through exams," he said.

"But we're not in that position and we've had to look at alternative models.

"There is a very clear structure for teachers."

But he admitted "many, many thousands" of schools will face an external review by examiners to check grades aren't being inflated.

"There's external assurance from exam boards – there'll be a randomised audit of schools to make sure they're following guidance and grades are fair," he said.

"On top that is that where there are outliers, where schools are submitting grades don't seem to be consistent, exam boards will be able to look at those closely."

In a later interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr, he said schools will remain open – even if the R rate rises above one.

And he guaranteed kids will be back in class after the Easter break, telling Mr Marr: "Yes, schools will be reopening after Easter."

Ministers have pledged ÂŁ1.7bn to help kids catch up on the year they have spent outside of the classroom during the Covid pandemic.

Experts have warned it will take billions more pounds and many years to plug the gaping holes in kids’ education.

Boris Johnson declared last week: "When schools re-open on 8 March, I want to make sure no child is left behind as a result of the learning they have lost over the past year."

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