ALL primary school children in Wales will return to face-to-face teaching from mid-March provided the coronavirus situation in the country “continues to improve”, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Mr Drakeford said the next review of coronavirus restrictions in three weeks will prioritise getting more people back to school and college.

The aim is to have all primary school pupils back into classrooms on March 15.

There will also be a focus on getting some older pupils back into school and college for blended learning.

At Friday's coronavirus briefing, Mr Drakeford said: "We are in very continuous conversations with leaders about what we can do to help children make up for some of the gaps that may have emerged in their learning.

"We'd already announced money for the school sector and I think our education authorities have worked incredibly hard to get more than 1,000 extra staff in place to help children with catch up learning."

He added that he hoped to begin easing measures to allow young people to play sport together soon.

He added: "I'm very keen to allow children to resume outdoor activity. Our main priority at the moment is getting them back to school.

"We will have to carefully observe what impact that has on the spread of the disease.

"If that works, then beyond that I am very keen to allow those young people to take part in activities outdoors.

"The problem is every activity you add is another chance for the virus to circulate. Everything adds something and by the time you add them all up the virus is thriving and spreading again."

Mr Drakeford confirmed to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that children in the foundation phase of Welsh education – pupils aged between three and seven – would return to primary schools from Monday.

“I’ll be saying today that on Monday March 15, provided things continue to improve, all primary school children will be back in face-to-face education and those students in secondary schools who are facing examinations, we aim to get them back in the classroom as well,” Mr Drakeford said.

“And then we will carefully review as part of our deal with our teaching unions and local education authorities. We take a step, we collect the evidence, we decide what to do next.”

At Friday's briefing, the First Minister was asked about vaccinations for teachers and making classrooms safe for teachers.

Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government follows the advice of the JCVI on vaccination priority.

He said: "If the advice of the JCVI moves in that direction that is what we will follow in Wales.

"In the meantime we have worked very hard to put measures in place as teachers return to the classroom.

"I am confident schools are safe places for teachers to return to."