BOURNEMOUTH MP Conor Burns said talks should be held over extending the academic year in the summer if there are further delays to schools reopening.

Conor Burns said young people needed to be put first in 2021 as the implications of a disrupted education would stay with pupils for their whole lives.

As reported, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the return of secondary school pupils to the classroom after the Christmas break would be delayed.

Mr Williamson told the House of Commons that pupils in secondary exam years would now go back on January 11, with all secondary and college youngsters returning full time on January 18.

Primary schools are still due to open as planned on January 4, expect for areas in London and Essex that have been hit hardest by Covid-19.

Speaking after Mr Williamson's statement on Wednesday, Bournemouth West MP Mr Burns told the Daily Echo: "The Secretary of State for Education and the wider ministerial team need to start having a pragmatic and constructive conversation with teaching unions that if there is further delay to school reopening and face-to-face teaching time early in 2021, I seriously think we should be looking at the possibility of extending the school year into the summer.

"What we have to do this year is put our young people first, their futures. This pandemic will pass. The implications of missed teaching time and perhaps exam grades that don't reflect their ability and their efforts will stay with them for a lifetime.

"If schools are not fully reopening in January and that pushes them back further, I see no reason why we shouldn't talk about extending the term time into late July and potentially August as well."

Mr Burns, whose mother was an English teacher and grandfather was a primary school head, said he had "enormous respect and regard for the teaching profession".

"I know they will want to do their level best for the young people," added Mr Burns.

"They are endeavouring to give them the best start in life."

During a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam said a lot was still unknown about whether jabs stopped people passing the disease to others.

Mr Burns said: "I was very concerned to hear what Jonathan Van Tam said that people being vaccinated may not be immune from spreading, it would merely stop them becoming ill.

"As a matter of urgency we need to get the science on that as that potentially slows things down massively."