EDUCATION Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs “education recovery is critical for this generation” of school children.

And in a statement to the Commons he said: “Returning to normal educational routines as quickly as possible is critical to our national recovery too.”

Mr Williamson said the Government is working to ensure all pupils can return to schools and colleges full-time in September, noting: “With Covid-secure measures in place so they have the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their full potential.”

Mr Williamson said schools will continue minimising contact between children, including through grouping them in “bubbles” and encouraging older children to distance.

He went on: “As a minimum, this will mean keeping whole year groups in schools and colleges separate.

“This is in addition to the other protective measures we know are so important for infection control, such as regular cleaning and hand washing.”

Mr Williamson also told MPs: “By the start of the autumn term we will provide all schools and colleges with a small number of testing kits.

“These will be taken home by children or staff who develop symptoms while on site but who would struggle to access a testing centre. This is so that they can have a test quickly and that they can get results back quickly.”

He added from September, schools are expected to teach a broad curriculum and that exams are expected to go ahead in summer 2021.

He said: “From September, we are asking schools and colleges to return to a broad and balanced curriculum so that all pupils continue to be taught in a wide range of subjects, maintaining their choices for further study and employment.”

Mr Williamson said the Government expects all children who can be at school to be at school from September.

He said: ”Schools and colleges will need to work with families to secure regular attendance from the start of the new academic year with the reintroduction of mandatory attendance.”

From July 20 nurseries will no longer be limited on the number of children allowed to be together.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said the Government had been “asleep at the wheel” in plans for getting pupils to return to schools.

She told the Commons: “The announcement finally recognises the desperate pleas of heads, staff and governors for information and certainty about plans for the next academic year.”