Schools in England will close from Friday until further notice for all pupils except children of key workers and the most vulnerable, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said.

This follows on from the decision to close schools in Scotland and Wales in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Williamson told MPs: "I want to provide parents, students and staff with the certainty they need.

"After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon they will remain closed until further notice.

"This will be for all children except to those of key workers and where children who are most vulnerable." 

Earlier on Wednesday, the Welsh Government said all schools will close for an early Easter break by Friday at the latest, just minutes before First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced schools in Scotland will also close by the end of the week. 

Schools in Northern Ireland to close

She explained: "The House should expect further decisions to be taken imminently on schools and how to make sure we square the circle both of making sure we stop the spread of the disease but also making sure we relieve, as much as we can, pressure on our NHS."

Ms Sturgeon said that schools have now lost too many staff to continue as normal, and wanted to reassure teachers and school staff that the government would work with them as they know what is best for children.

The First Minister said the Scottish Government is still working out the finer detail of what this will all mean.

Welsh minister for education Kirsty Williams said plans were being made for schools in Wales to be repurposed to help people "involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak".

She said: "I can announce we are bringing forward the Easter break for schools in Wales. Schools across Wales will close for statutory provision of education at the latest on 20 March 2020.

"I have been clear up to now that the continuity of education and the well-being of our learners has been at the heart of my decision-making. This will always be the case.

"From next week, schools will have a new purpose. They will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak."