School bubbles set to be scrapped on July 19 to stop pupils having to isolate

Children of secondary school age are among those least at risk of covid but vaccination could drive down transmission in classrooms (Image: PA)

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School-isolation bubbles in schools are due to be scrapped on July 19, the government is set to announce.

The Health Secretary set out the plans when outlining what Step 4 in England's roadmap out of lockdown will look like.

Previously the government said classroom bubbles and isolation rules could be dropped after July 19, but did not explicitly say the changes would begin on that date.

Today Sajid Javid told the Commons: "I can confirm that on July 19 it is our plan to remove bubbles and to end the requirement for early year settings, schools and colleges to routinely carry out contact tracing."

The Health Secretary also hinted the government could go further in exempting children from some isolation.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid sets out Step 4 of our roadmap out of lockdown in the House of Commons
(Image: PA)

He told the Commons: "I will have more to say on how we intend to exempt under-18s who are close contacts from the requirement to self-isolate."

Many schools in England are set to break up for the summer on July 22, so the plan could be implemented in time for the next school year which starts in September.

It comes as Gavin Williamson is under pressure to publish plans for next year's school exams as analysis reveals GCSE pupils have missed one in four days of teaching this year.

The Education Secretary has been urged to set out what will happen with assessments by the time pupils return to school in Autumn to give teachers time to prepare.

Mr Williamson, who has told MPs that changes will be made to next year’s exams but has given no further details, faces calls not to repeat the mistakes of the last two academic years.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green raised concerns about "striking inconsistencies’" in schools and colleges which have used different methods of assessing pupils’ grades after the Government failed to provide clear advice.

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Ramping up the pressure, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“September 1st is the absolute latest that information should be provided about qualifications in 2022. There still hasn’t been any detail nor a public consultation, and we are already in July. That is unacceptable.

“Government's blind faith meant that in 2021 education professionals were left to pick up the pieces, whilst being given no resources to free them up to actually do the work necessary for grading.

"Students and education professionals across the country should never have been put in this position in the first place.

“With no further information yet about 2022, we are seriously concerned that the Government is yet again pinning everything on hope."

GCSE exams were scrapped this year and replaced with teacher assessments, leaving many students “stressed” and struggling to cope with the changes.

Thea, a Year 11 student from London told The Daily Mirror: “The exam process was confusing and disorganised.

“At times it wasn’t clear what would and wouldn’t count to our final grades, so we thought everything contributed.

“It was an exceptionally intense, stressful few months for students and teachers.”

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