Education Secretary John Swinney says he will send his son back to school on 11 August

The Education Secretary said his wife and son have been at home since the beginning of lockdown

Scotland's Education Secretary has said he will send his son to school on 11 August - unless clinical advice recommends otherwise.

John Swinney told MSPs this week that he hopes to have children back in classrooms without the need for social distancing during August, if Covid-19 continues to be suppressed.

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In an interview with Ewen Cameron on Radio Clyde and Radio Forth, Mr Swinney said he will send his own son back to school despite his wife Elizabeth being in the shielding category due to having multiple sclerosis.

John Swinney says he will be sending his son to school on 11 August

He said: "Matthew will go to school unless there is clinical advice to say that the child of a shielding person should not go there - but I don't expect that to be the case."

Mr Swinney added he and his family have had to be "very careful" as a result of the pandemic, something which will have to continue "for a long time to come".

The Education Secretary said his wife and son have been at home since the beginning of lockdown and the idea he was the only one who could bring coronavirus into the house was something that "preys on him".

He said he will not punish parents who are uncomfortable sending their children to school over fears they may catch or spread the virus.

On 14 June, Mr Swinney told the BBC that sending children to school would be a legal requirement under the blended learning model but in the interview due to be broadcast on Thursday, he said: "I don't think they should be (punished).

"In the circumstances that we're in, we've got to understand and reassure parents and if we can't quite reassure them and give them the confidence that its safe for their children to return to school, I think we've got to work sympathetically with them through those issues."

The Education Secretary said he will understand why a parent might make the decision not to send their child to school, adding it is not "a moment for us to have friction and conflict with parents".