Schools minister Nick Gibb has told MPs that schools can finish early – on Thursday, December 17 – so that heads and teachers have a "clear six days" before Christmas Eve; this means they would not have to engage with NHS track and trace throughout the festive break.
Last month ministers had told schools in England that they could not close early or change their Christmas holiday dates. However this week, speaking to a virtual education select committee, Gibb said:
"We are about to announce that inset days can be used on Friday December 18, even if an inset day had not been originally scheduled for that day.
"We want there to be a clear six days so that, by the time we reach Christmas Eve, staff can have a proper break without having to engage in the track and trace issues."