An update has been given on what will happen over the return to school after Christmas for both primary and secondary school students.

Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson has been speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon.

He said that “the overwhelming majority” of primary schools would return as planned on Monday, January 4.

“We know how vitally important is in for younger children to be in school,” he said.

The exception will be in a small number of areas where infection rates are highest, and in those cases they will only be open for vulnerable children and children of carers.

This would not be all Tier 4 areas, he said.

Ongoing testing for primary school staff will continue in January.

The government has already announced its intention of a staggered return for secondary schools and colleges.

Mr Williamson said: “We’re going to allow more time so that every school and college can roll out testing of pupils and staff.”

As a result, only exam students would return on January 11, with a view to all secondary school and college students in all year groups returning full time on January 18.

On or after January 4 schools will prepare for testing of staff and students and will only be open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers.

Testing would begin “in earnest” the week after, with a priority on exam year groups.

To allow these preparations to happen, exam students will be taught remotely that first week.

As with primary schools, in areas with very high rates of the virus students will be taught remotely.

Mr Williamson said that 100,000 electronic devices would be provided in the first week of term to schools across the country, in addition to 560,000 devices already given out, with a target of one million devices to be distributed for children who need them most.

“Children will not have to pay the price for beating Covid,” he added.

And with regards to university, the return of those needing practical experience would be prioritised and that all students should be offered two rapid tests on return.

Remote learning would be encouraged where possible, with a delay on returning to campus encouraged.

Speaking of the update, Mr Williamson said: “We have had to make a number of changes for the new term in order to help with breaking chains of transmission and assist keeping all our children and education settings as safely as we can.”

He said dealing with the pandemic had “always been an exercise in managing risk”, and paid tribute to the “incredible dedication of teachers, leaders and support staff” in ensuring school settings were safe.