Harlow’s MP has called for the Government to ensure children are given back the months of education they have lost to the pandemic as he welcomed the Prime Minister’s road map out of lockdown.

Boris Johnson has said England is approaching “seasons of hope” that will usher in changes making lives “incomparably better” as he set out a plan to ease the lockdown by June 21.

The Prime Minister laid out his “cautious but also irreversible” approach to relaxing restrictions with a four-step plan on Monday, arguing he will not be “buccaneering” with people’s lives.

Robert Halfon, also the education committee chairman, expressed his pleasure at Boris Johnson’s plan which he said will "give certainty to businesses and constituents in Harlow".

However, the Tory MP who has represented the town since 2010, called for Mr Johnson to commit to education catch up measures without putting extra burden on teachers.

In a question to the PM following the announcement of the road map, Mr Halfon said: “Given that so many children have lost months of school impacting their education attainment and mental health, will he assure that every pupil is assessed for their loss of learning and how much catch up is needed and will he consider extending the school day. Not by putting an extra burden on teachers and support staff but by using civil society to offer sporting activities, mental health support and academic catch up where necessary?”

Boris Johnson pledged to champion education initiatives and said his appointment of Sir Kevin Collins as education recovery commission proved his dedication to the cause.

In the Prime Minister’s first step of the road map, all pupils in England’s schools are expected to return to class from March 8.

Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date.

A further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

Progressing along the road map will depend on meeting four tests: the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, an assessment of new variants, and keeping infection rates below a level that could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

By April 12 at earliest, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens may reopen.

From May 17, two households or groups of up to six people may be allowed to mix indoors and crowds of up to 10,000 in the largest venues will be allowed at performances and sporting events.

And the end goal of June 21 would see all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, larger events can go ahead and nightclubs could finally reopen.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “Thanks to the vaccinations there is light ahead, leading us to a spring and a summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all.”

Essex County Council’s leader Cllr David Finch also welcomed the road map, but urged residents not to drop their guard.

He said: “While the announcement is welcome news and certainly a step in the right direction, I must ask everyone to please remain cautious. We are not out of the woods yet, and we must not undo all the sacrifices everyone has made over the past year.”

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