Secondary schools across most of England are to remain closed for a further two weeks for pupils to help regain control of coronavirus.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Commons that exam-year pupils would return a week earlier than other years in the week of 11 January.

The majority of primary schools in England will return after the Christmas break as planned on 4 January but secondary school pupils will return later in the month.

Mr Williamson said temporary shutdowns would cut chains of transmission.

In the Commons Mr Williamson said:

“All pupils in exam years are to return during the week beginning the 11 January with all secondary and college students returning full time on the 18 January. During the first week of term, on or after the 4 January, secondary schools and colleges will prepare to test as many staff and students as possible and will only be open to vulnerable children and children of key workers.”

The Education Secretary said the delay in reopening secondary schools would allow head teachers to develop and set up mass testing plans for their pupils.

The military will remain in a supporting role offering training and advice to staff across England.

University students will only be able to return if they need to be in the class for practical lessons.

All other students will be delayed in returning and will be tested on their return.

They were meant to return in phases throughout January into February.