What time is John Swinney's update today? When will the Education Secretary make his announcement on Scotland's schools reopening on Thursday?

The Scottish Tories have called for the Education Secretary to direct local councils to open schools full time

Education Secretary John Swinney has been urged to commit to reopening Scotland's schools full-time when he makes a statement to MSPs today.

The Deputy First Minister is due to address Parliament at 2 pm on Thursday on progress with plans for sending pupils back from August 11.

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Conservative education spokesman Jamie Greene said if the Scottish Government fails to achieve this it will be "a betrayal of parents' trust" that will have a "damning effect on education and our economy".

The Scottish Tories have called for the Education Secretary to direct local councils to open schools full timeThe Scottish Tories have called for the Education Secretary to direct local councils to open schools full time
The Scottish Tories have called for the Education Secretary to direct local councils to open schools full time

"The time for ambiguity and dither quite simply is over," he said.

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"Mr Swinney must now direct all of Scotland's councils to reopen schools full-time on August 11 as he promised he would do."

His comments came after parents from across the country contacted both Mr Swinney and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, raising their concerns about the impact lockdown and the closure of schools has had on youngsters.

One parent said: "The children are missing out from an academic, social and mental health perspective."

Another asked: "How can I work and rebuild my business and create employment for others and pay taxes if I cannot work full-time?"

In correspondence released under freedom of information, another parent said: "Is the assumption that we find people to look after our children or that we give up our jobs?

"I am already struggling in finance terms, giving up my job does not help the economy or my role to look after my family and provide for them. I would lose my house by September."

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They added: "If you have clarity please advise of what the plan is and how Scot Gov expect parents to manage."

Mr Greene said the correspondence was a "snapshot of the deep worry and anger of parents over the future of Scottish education under the SNP Government".

The Scottish Government has said a decision on whether it is safe to reopen schools full-time will be made by July 30 - less than two weeks before youngsters are due to return to classes.

Mr Greene said: "Schools and families need to know now if they are going back to school or not - July 30 is simply too late."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We know this has been a challenging time for parents.

"Our intention continues to be for pupils to return full-time on August 11 but it remains dependent on it being safe to do so and the continuing collective efforts to suppress coronavirus.

"That means taking account of the most up to date scientific evidence and making sure public health measures and testing systems are in place.

"Through the Education Recovery Group, we continue to work closely with councils, parent bodies, teachers' representatives and trade unions to ensure that plans are developed collaboratively for a safe and smooth transition back to school."

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She said the Deputy First Minister will update Parliament on Thursday, adding: "The group will provide advice that enables a decision on whether it is safe for pupils to return to schools full-time no later than July 30."

To watch John Swinney’s address, visit Parliament TV here.

Reporting by PA

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