SOME Sussex schools will not reopen in the New Year, the government announced today.

Hastings and Rother are among a small number of areas in England where schools will be asked to stay shut to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers for the start of term in January.

Other affected areas are in London, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent.

These schools will be opened as soon as possible, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday.

Across the rest of Sussex, primary schools will return as expected next week. But the reopening of secondary schools will be delayed.

The Argus:

Children who have exams this year are set to return on January 11, while other pupils will go back to school a week later.

Mr Williamson told MPs yesterday that these measures had been taken as the "Covid infection rate is particularly high among this (secondary) age group".

"We are going to allow more time so that every school and college is able to fully roll out testing for all of their pupils and staff," he said.

"This kind of mass testing will help protect not just children and young people - it will benefit everyone in the community.

"It will break those chains of transmission that are making infection rates shoot up. This, in turn, will make it safer for more children to physically return to school."

The Argus:

But Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), described the plans as "another last-minute mess" and said leaders should have been given more time to prepare.

He said: "If we’d had the freedom to take action before the holidays, we might have been in a position to have more schools open for more pupils. School leaders will be baffled, frustrated and justifiably angry.”