Coronavirus outbreak

Smaller class sizes should become the new normal in state schools | Schools

L ooking beyond the present closure of schools to a “new normal”, and addressing the issue of disadvantage (Letters, 18 May), the obvious answer is to give those children who have fallen further behind during this crisis the advantage that has benefited so many in private education: smaller class sizes. The current government guidance of class sizes of 15, if extended beyond the lockdown, as opposed to the state-school norm of up to 30 children, would hugely benefit all pupils.…

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PM accepts some English primary schools may not return on 1 June | Education

Boris Johnson is pressing ahead with plans to reopen schools on 1 June but moved to appease councils and teaching unions by acknowledging for the first time that primary schools in England won’t have to reopen to more pupils until they are prepared. The acknowledgment by the prime minister came in his opening statement at the daily Covid-19 press conference on Sunday, in which Johnson said the government wanted primary schools to plan for allowing pupils in reception, year one…

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Will Covid-19 show us how to design better cities? | Society

Covid-19 has changed the way that towns and cities look. It has offered views of public places with fewer cars and cleaner air, roads you can stroll down, cycling without danger. It has made some things seem more precious, such as green spaces and parks. It has renewed appreciation of the social infrastructures of support and care. It has heightened awareness of the ways in which one person’s actions can affect another’s. It has made everyone more conscious of the…

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Poll reveals half of parents unconvinced that school is safe for their children’s return | Education

Parents are divided over the prospect of sending their children back to school, a new poll has revealed, as parent groups warned that mixed messages and poor communication had caused widespread anxiety about returning. With school leaders still grappling with the practicalities of reopening primary schools for some year groups in just a week’s time in England, an Opinium poll for the Observer found that 43 per cent of primary school parents and 54 per cent of secondary school parents…

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English schools reopening: which councils will meet 1 June deadline? | Education

No change: councils where no maintained schools are likely to meet the 1 June deadline • Sunderland city council said there was “no rush” to open up schools further on 1 June given the relatively local high rate of Covid-19 infections. The council leader, Graeme Millar, said: “Our stance is clear, we cannot expect teachers – or children – to be in a school environment in Sunderland unless they know that it is safe for them, and there are serious…

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Scientists warn 1 June is too early for schools to reopen in England | Education

A group of senior scientists has warned that 1 June is too soon for schools to reopen safely in England and that more time is needed to set up an effective track and trace system to contain future outbreaks. The Independent Sage committee, which is separate from the government’s official advisers and is chaired by the former government chief scientist Sir David King, says new modelling of coronavirus shows the risk to children will be halved if they return to…

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Thousands of A-level students could lose their unconditional university offers | Education

Thousands of A-level students could have their unconditional university offers withdrawn this summer, as ministers and the higher education regulator try to crack down on panic offers made during the pandemic. Sources at Westminster say the universities minister, Michelle Donelan, is determined to constrain universities, after private government data showed that 30,000 offers that had been dependent on A-level grades were suddenly switched to “unconditional” when the pandemic struck in March. The competition to recruit UK students will be more…

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Time for a government U-turn over the UK’s shocking child poverty levels | Schools

If there is a consensus emerging from the awful coronavirus pandemic, it is this: it has shone a spotlight on child poverty and the damage it does to young lives. Politicians who voted for austerity measures – including the two-child cap on child benefit and the five-week delay to the first payment of universal credit – that cruelly punished disadvantaged children, have rediscovered a concern for those whose lives have been blighted by their actions. Where, I wonder, was their…

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Dear Gavin Williamson: teachers like me can no longer look to you for leadership | Gary Collins | Opinion

Dear Gavin Williamson, Ten years ago I was a soldier serving as an intelligence analyst in Helmand province in Afghanistan. The coalition government had just come to power, and we were visited by a delegation of ministers including Liam Fox, the new Defence secretary. With hundreds of eyes staring him down, he stood there, in the heart of a land where so many British servicemen and women were still losing their lives, and told us that life was going to…

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Ministers rejected school reopening plan recommended by Sage experts | Education

School leaders said the government’s publication of scientific advice failed to make a convincing case for the early reopening of schools in England, as the government’s chief scientific adviser said an effective testing and tracking system was necessary for more pupils to return to the classroom. After pressure from teaching unions, the government published 12 documents presented to its Sage committee of scientific advisers looking at the effect of coronavirus on children and how schools could safely reopen to more…

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Reopening schools on 1 June will be logistical nightmare, say teachers | World news

Teachers have warned that the UK government’s push to reopen primary schools in England on 1 June will be a logistical nightmare. Under the plans, schools have been told to prepare to resume reception, year 1 and year 6 classes, as well as any early years education they provide. But a growing number of councils have said they will not comply, and Welsh and Scottish schools will not reopen until later. In accounts submitted by hundreds of teachers to the…

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Lockdown from a teenager’s perspective | Letter | Education

When I heard schools were going to close, I was like every other 15-year-old: excited. Thinking home schooling would be great. What could be better than not having to get up at the crack of dawn or rushing to get out of the house? For the first few weeks it was brilliant, until the novelty started to wear off. The pandemic has made me realise how much students take teachers for granted. Now, if I’m stuck on a piece of…

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Unions chief: lack of planning risks chaotic reopening of schools | Education

Ministers must avoid a “last-minute” approach to reopening England’s schools, the head of the umbrella organisation of unions has said, as the government’s scientific experts prepare to publish evidence about the safety of the move. With just 10 days to go until 1 June, the date named by Boris Johnson for more children to return to classrooms, the TUC secretary general, Frances O’Grady, is pressing the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, to establish a taskforce, which would include people from unions…

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UK universities facing £760m hit as one in five students plan to defer | Universities

British universities face a potential £760m blow to their funding after about one in five students said they would not enrol in the next academic year if classes were delivered online and other activities curtailed. A survey of students applying for undergraduate places found that more than 20% said they were willing to delay starting their courses if universities were not operating as normal due to the coronavirus pandemic, which would mean there would be 120,000 fewer students when the…

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‘Very, very upsetting’: students face tough decisions over university | Education

Thousands of students starting university in September are feeling uncertain about what to expect, with online learning and physical distancing measures likely to be in place, with one in five considering whether to defer. Many are worried about the quality of education they will receive, and have concerns about starting life away from home under a raft of regulations aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus. For those studying more practical, hands-on degrees, there are questions about whether these courses…

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No sex, no booze: how the move online will take all the fun out of university | Universities

Name: Student life. Age: Ongoing since the first university opened 1,161 years ago. Appearance: People sitting around in their parents’ house, nodding at a webcam. That doesn’t sound right. Well, times have changed. But why? For the same reason that you’re suddenly afraid of deliverymen and haven’t worn socks for three months. It’s because of coronavirus, silly. Explain yourself. The University of Cambridge has announced that it is going online-only for the full 2020-2021 academic year, with no face-to-face lectures,…

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