Parents and parenting

‘I don’t feel I can say no’: parents torn on sending children back to school | Schools

A fter the government’s U-turn over the full reopening of schools before September in England, parents remain divided about whether to send their children back. The Guardian spoke to some parents about their decision. ‘Obviously there is a worry, but he wants to go’ My son is supposed to be sitting his A-levels next year. I’ve got a friend whose son is at private school, and our children don’t get nearly the same experience. There are subject areas where we…

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Thousands return to school in England but many parents still wary | Education

Thousands of children returned to schools across England for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began in March, but many others remained at home because of parental concerns and warnings from some councils that it is still too early to reopen more widely. This week marks the start of the government’s phased reopening of schools in England, with pupils in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 returning to classes from 1 June, but a survey of school leaders…

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Early years and childcare sector at risk of collapse in England | Education

The future of the early years and childcare sector is at risk in England, the Early Years Alliance (EYA) has said, as fewer than half of parents with young children plan to take up their childcare places on 1 June. Just over 40% of parents of under-fives say they will send their children back to nursery, preschool or childminders this week, according to a poll by the EYA of more than 6,300 care providers. A further 13% of parents say…

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Working mothers interrupted more often than fathers in lockdown – study | Gender pay gap

Working mothers have been able to do only one hour of uninterrupted paid work for every three hours done by men during lockdown, according to a study that exposes the work imbalance between men and women.  A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL institute of education also says mothers in England are more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs during lockdown, increasing fears that the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated inequality and could lead to…

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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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The Observer view on how the debate on schools has been dangerously mishandled | Observer editorial | Opinion

Decisions about how to mitigate and control this pandemic are some of the most thorny and complex that governments have ever had to make. Every day, choices must be made that trade off different risks and harms on the basis of highly uncertain evidence. Be sceptical of anyone who pretends these decisions are easy. Perhaps none is more high-stakes than how to keep children as safe as possible from the effects of the pandemic. So it is unsurprising that the…

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Grammar schools created lasting divisions | Education

J oan Bakewell rightly praises the 1944 Education Act for establishing free secondary education (VE Day was the spark for change. Coronavirus could be too, 8 May), thus giving her the opportunity to study at a Stockport grammar school. Oddly though, she says the 11-plus exam “split educational options”. There was no grammar school option for those who “failed” the 11-plus. I wonder if the children whose self-esteem took a tumble felt they were part of a “more equitable society”.…

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‘I feel I’ve come home’: can forest schools help heal refugee children? | Education

When Kate Milman was 21, she paused her English degree at the University of East Anglia to join protests against the Newbury bypass. It was 1996, and the road was being carved out through idyllic wooded countryside in Berkshire. She took up residence in a treehouse, in the path of the bulldozers, and lived there for months. It was a revelation. She lived intimately with the catkins, the calling birds, the slow-slow-fast change in the seasons. Despite being in a…

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Italian lessons: what we’ve learned from two months of home schooling | Education

Most of us in Emilia-Romagna, in northern Italy, remember the weekend of 22 February very clearly. To begin with there were just rumours – phone calls and messages flying around between friends – but then it was confirmed: all schools in the region were going to close for a week. The decision was, in many ways, shocking. At that time, there had only been three deaths from Covid-19 in Italy, and only 152 reported infections. It seemed strange that education…

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Domestic detention and oxbow lakes: helpline offers home-schooling advice | Education

Parents and carers struggling to teach phonics to one child and physics to another at home during the coronavirus lockdown will now be able to call up expert help. A group of schools in England have set up a national helpline operating six days a week to allow parents to find someone who can explain the mysteries of trigonometry, oxbow lakes and the Schleswig-Holstein Question if they cannot. Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, is one of those backing the…

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As the lockdown bites, it’s women who are taking the strain | Gaby Hinsliff | Opinion

Flicking through our slowly emptying family calendar, a relic of a more innocent age jumps out. “Back to school”, it says in thick black pen, across the beginning of next week. Well, dream on. Across Europe schools are now tentatively beginning to reopen, at least in countries such as Denmark which locked down earlier than we did; German schools too are likely to start returning from early May. But in Britain, it might be half term before that can be…

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No spare time in lockdown? That’s not such a bad thing | Life and style

From the minute we went into lockdown, there’s been a lively discussion, online and elsewhere, about how to fill all our extra spare time. We parents of small children permitted ourselves a hollow laugh at that (before immediately worrying that the hollow laugh was turning into a dry cough). Because for us, there was suddenly no time at all. Every waking second was accounted for, so the advice that we might seize this opportunity to reread the novels of Jane…

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The Guardian view on life without school: not a level playing field | Opinion

What was, just a few days ago, the object of excited speculation among British children has become a reality. Schools are shut. For an unspecified period, learning will take place at home, except for a minority of pupils who are deemed to be vulnerable, or whose parents are key workers. Closing schools was a necessary step that should have been taken sooner, as it was in other countries. But the change in our national life that will begin on Monday…

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After just half a day of home-schooling, I am officially in awe of all teachers | Emma Brockes | Opinion

We are doing a writing exercise at the kitchen table, about 90 minutes into home-schooling. So far, it’s gone quite well. I’ve drawn a grid with alphabetised headers and I’m dictating words for my five-year-old to write down. There was a brief dispute about which pen to use – she picked up a permanent marker, then wouldn’t accept, in spite of my reasoning, that it was 100% the wrong pen – but now we’re on track. I’ve totally got this,…

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National secondary school offer day: everything you need to know | Education

What is offer day? It’s been a long time coming but on Tuesday more than half a million children who are in their final year of primary school find out whether they got into their first choice of secondary school. After hours spent reading prospectuses, attending open evenings and filling in forms, parents submitted their applications for a secondary school place in England at the end of October. After months of waiting they will begin to receive email notifications on…

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‘Always on’ hi-tech work culture is hitting family life, says report | Life and style

Evening emails and an “always on” working culture means that for many parents their job has become too big for the hours they are supposed to allot to it, according to an influential survey. The 2020 Modern Families Index reveals that while more than half of parents have flexible working arrangements, poor job design has left many struggling to cope with the competing demands of home and workplace. It found that more than a third fake illness to meet family…

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