Schools are to close from Friday (March 20) in the face of the coronavirus crisis for all pupils except those who are vulnerable and with ‘key worker’ parents.

Speaking to the House of Commons this afternoon, education secretary Gavin Williamson said it was time now act on school closures as the balance of risk had changed and schools were struggling to stay open.

Mr Williamson said schools would stay closed until further notice and he would be asking private schools to take the same measures.

But the children of key workers such as NHS staff, the police and delivery drivers, would still be able to attend, as well as children who are vulnerable, such as those with education, health and care plans.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We think now that we must apply further downward pressure on that upward curve by closing the schools.”

He said the objective of the measure was to slow the spread of the virus.

Mr Johnson added: “We will take the right steps at the right time guided by the science. We believe that the steps we have already taken, together with those I am announcing today, are already slowing the spread of the disease.

“But we will not hesitate to go further and faster in the days and weeks ahead and we will do whatever it takes so that we beat it together.”