Gavin Williamson

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Is it safe to go back to school in England? The scientific advice so far | Schools

Michael Gove says it is safe for children to return to school – so what is the scientific guidance? The Department for Education recently released an overview of advice it received from Public Health England, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and its subgroup the Children’s Task and Finish Working Group – although specific evidence from these latter groups has yet to be published. The new report points out that in general children with Covid-19 have a far milder…

Read More

Marking books not safe suggests new coronavirus guidance for teachers | Education

A growing number of councils in England are warning parents not to expect schools to open on 1 June, as new union guidance for teachers suggests it will not be safe to mark children’s books. Bury council in Greater Manchester is the latest to confirm that primary schools will not reopen for some pupils on the government’s target date at the start of next month, pointing out that Covid-19 infections in the area are still too high. Tamoor Tariq, lead…

Read More

‘Rushed and premature’: parents reveal fears over schools reopening amid Covid-19 crisis | Education

Parents in England have complained that the decision by the UK government to reopen primary schools on 1 June was “rushed and premature”. The plan is that primary schools will bring back reception, year 1 and year 6 classes, as well as nursery children, if they have them. According to thousands of accounts submitted by parents and teachers to the Guardian community team, there is still a lot of concern about how physical distancing will be managed and how to…

Read More

Prolonged school closures risk damaging children’s education, No 10 warns | Schools

Downing Street has warned of the risks to children’s education of prolonging school closures, as the government doubles down on plans for a phased reopening from 1 June. Education unions have reacted angrily to the plan, which would see reception and years 1 and 6 return first, calling it “reckless”, and warning that schools have not been given enough time to prepare. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, wrote in the Daily Mail that teachers should be ready to “do their…

Read More

Unions warn of ‘lack of understanding’ over English school reopenings | Education

A coalition of nine unions representing hundreds of thousands of teachers, school leaders and support staff have accused the government of a “lack of understanding” about the dangers of coronavirus spreading within schools and to the wider community. In a joint statement they called on ministers to step back from plans for a phased reopening schools in England beginning on 1 June and said classrooms of four- and five-year-olds could become sources of Covid-19 transmission. However, the education secretary, Gavin…

Read More

Unions tell staff ‘not to engage’ with plan for 1 June school openings | Education

Government plans to reopen schools in England face a mounting backlash from education unions, who say the proposals are not feasible and have advised teachers and support staff not to “engage with” preparations for a 1 June return. The Department for Education (DfE) wants children back in primary schools in a phased reopening starting next month, with class sizes limited to 15 and a staggered timetable to limit the number of pupils and risk of transmission. The education secretary, Gavin…

Read More

Most UK pupils unlikely to return until new school year | Education

Boris Johnson has said he wants to press ahead with a rapid reopening of primary schools in England on 1 June while older pupils remain at home, despite safety concerns from parents, school leaders and unions. The announcement would mean that school will remain shut to the majority of children for the remainder of the school year, with most secondary school pupils in England and most pupils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland unlikely to return before the end of…

Read More

Prioritise play when schools reopen, say mental health experts | Education

Child mental health experts have urged the government to prioritise children’s play and socialising with friends over formal lessons and academic progress when schools in England reopen and lockdown restrictions are eased. They say they are “extremely concerned” about the impact of the lockdown and more than six weeks without face-to-face play with peers on child mental health. They are calling on ministers to ensure that play is at the top of newly permitted activities. The UK government has said…

Read More

Schools in England should not reopen before September, unions warn | Education

Schools in England should not reopen before September and the government must not force parents to send children back if they object, two leading unions have warned the education secretary. As the prime minister prepares to outline plans for an easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, speculation has mounted that schools will reopen from as early as 1 June, first to 10- and 11-year-olds in year six, followed by other primary year groups and then for those mid-GCSE and on A-level…

Read More

Schools across England will reopen in phases, says education secretary | Education

Schools across England that have been closed for almost six weeks as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown will reopen in phases, with headteachers given as much notice as possible, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said. The secretary of state would not give a date for reopening, but ruled out schools opening during the summer holidays as a way of helping pupils who have missed out on education to catch up. Questioned by the education select committee on Wednesday,…

Read More

Teachers in England condemn speculation over school reopenings | Education

School leaders have called for an end to “irresponsible speculation” over dates for schools in England to reopen, as ministers were forced to reject suggestions that many pupils would be back in classrooms next month. The Sunday Times claimed that “senior ministers” had backed a plan for schools to partially reopen on three possible dates: immediately after the current lockdown is scheduled to end on 11 May; after the half-term holiday on 1 June; or at the start of the…

Read More

Education was never the sole focus of schools. The coronavirus pandemic has proved it | Education

There is no such thing as an easy pandemic. Every corner of society is exposed; each one of us battling our own problems. For headteachers in England, those problems are multiplied by the anxieties of the 8.7 million children for whom they are responsible. The past month has been brutal for school leaders, and we all need to act cautiously if we don’t want thousands of teachers to be yet another casualty of this virus. It took just nine minutes…

Read More

Some UK schools looking at unregulated exams to replace GCSEs and A-Levels | Education

Some schools in the UK are investigating the use of unregulated examinations to get around the government’s decision to cancel A-level and GCSEs exams this summer over coronavirus fears, the Guardian has learned. A group of schools have been discussing the possible use of qualifications such as international GCSEs known as iGCSEs, or alternatives to A-levels known as Pre-U or international A-levels, which are offered by examination boards AQA and Cambridge Assessments and are almost exclusively used by independent schools.…

Read More

Outstanding schools to lose exemption from Ofsted inspections | Education

Outstanding schools in England will no longer be exempt from routine Ofsted inspections, education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced. The move is one of several government measures intended to bolster education standards. The new, expanded inspection programme aims to ensure that parents get up-to-date information and can be confident that schools rated outstanding continue to provide the highest standards, said Williamson. “Every parent wants to know their child is getting a great education and I will leave no stone unturned…

Read More