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Ant and Dec and David Walliams to deliver virtual school assembly about Covid-19

It is part of the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe programme of assemblies.

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Ant and Dec (Ian West/PA)

Ant and Dec (Ian West/PA)

Ant and Dec (Ian West/PA)

Celebrities Ant and Dec and David Walliams will give a virtual assembly to schoolchildren on the worries that young people are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The stars will host the special assembly online for the NSPCC, which will include a question and answer session with young pupils and the children’s minister, on Friday.

It is part of the charity’s Speak Out Stay Safe programme of assemblies, which normally take place in primary schools but have now been moved online to reach more pupils at home.

Primary school pupils will ask Vicky Ford, minister for children and families, a series of questions about Covid-19, including whether they should be tested for coronavirus before returning to school and what they should do if they cannot concentrate on school work at home.

It comes as figures from the NSPCC show that the charity’s Childline service has delivered 6,938 counselling sessions to children and young people affected by coronavirus since January.

The charity carried out 2,593 counselling sessions with children who shared concerns about abuse or neglect, on average 370 every week, during seven weeks of lockdown, which is an increase of approximately 60 more per week than in the months leading up to lockdown.

The digital assembly aims to equip children with the knowledge and understanding they need to help them stay safe from abuse and neglect.

Ant said: “It’s great to be able to host the NSPCC’s virtual assembly for children and their families, especially as this one carries such an important message – that every child can turn to someone when times are tough.”

Ms Ford said: “Coronavirus is the biggest challenge we have faced in a long time. That’s why we have all had to make big changes, like staying at home, not seeing family and friends in person, and lots of children not attending school as normal.

“Thanks to all the changes children and their families have made over the last few months, we have come a long way in fighting the virus, and more children are now returning to school.”

The assembly will be shown on the NSPCC’s Facebook page from 9.30am on Friday.

Karen Squillino, head of NSPCC Schools Service, said: “Primary schools play an essential role in keeping our children safe. This is because they are in a strong position to identify signs of abuse and neglect, and also offer a secure space to teach children about staying safe and, if necessary, speaking out.

“However, due to the pandemic we have been unable to go into schools so by hosting a virtual assembly we can reach even more children during lockdown to let them know who to turn to for help.”

PA