No decision on summer catch up lessons, Rishi Sunak tells Wensleydale School students

From left, Siobhan Brosnan, The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Jay Hall,12, Nathan Rosbotham,12, Ethan Parry, 15, Alice Stanley,12, Corey Tunmore,12, Olivia Handley,13, and Head teacher Julia Polley.

Rishi Sunak said no decision had been made on summer catch up lessons for students during a visit to a Richmondshire secondary school today.

The Richmond MP and Chancellor praised students and staff on the success of their testing programme during a stop off at The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form.

The Chancellor arrived at the school this morning and spoke with parents, then students at the testing centre, before holding a question and answer session.

Mr Sunak said he was very impressed with the testing operation he had witnessed at the school.

“The school staff and volunteers have done a great job in setting up the system to make the very welcome return to school as safe as possible for pupils and staff.

“It was all very calm and smooth and I am sure that helped everyone involved feel reassured about the process.

“My Q&A with pupils was good fun. They had some probing questions for me.

“It was refreshing to hear about their issues and I really enjoyed talking to them about my life as their local MP, working in Westminster, and dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Rishi Sunak MP chats to Mark Ashcroft.

Responding to a question by one of students about proposed summer catch up lessons, Mr Sunak said: “No decision has been made but he (Gavin Williamson) is looking at options such as extra tutoring and summer schools.

“It’s really important this past year doesn’t end up harming your chances of you being able to do whatever you really want to do, and if we need to catch up a little bit, it’s a really good thing.”

Staff at the school have spent the week testing students ahead of a full return to school on Monday.

The school has recorded no positive or void results from the two sets of tests given to pupils this week.

Headteacher Julia Polley said: “Students and parents had the opportunity to meet with Rishi Sunak MP today as he held a Q&A session with some of our students and chatted with staff and parents about the testing arrangements.

“It is an honour to host the Chancellor and we are grateful for the time he has taken out of his busy schedule to visit our school community.

About the testing centre, she added: “During this week we have tested 98 per cent of students with lateral flow tests, which is testament to the continued support from our parents for us to be able to do this.

“So far, we have had 100 per cent negative tests and together with our robust infection management controls and risk assessment, we are confident to get back to face to face teaching from March 15.

“I would like to congratulate all the students for their mature and sensible approach to testing and I am delighted that they have all reported they are looking forward to returning to school.

“Finally, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the senior leaders and testing team who have worked tirelessly to make this happen. I couldn’t have done this without them.”

The visit was the first of a number made by the MP today, with Mr Sunak also calling into Leyburn Primary School.