Primary schools

Low attendance at scaled-down schools sparks fears for vulnerable pupils | World news

Children identified as vulnerable and therefore entitled to a place in emergency school provision during the coronavirus outbreak failed to turn up on Monday, raising concerns among headteachers about their safety. On Friday, schools closed their gates indefinitely to all students, apart from the children of key workers vital in the fight against Covid-19 and those identified as vulnerable, either because they have significant special educational needs or have a social worker. School leaders worked frantically over the weekend, contacting…

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Covid-19 reveals the alarming truth that many children can’t wash their hands at school | Laura McInerney | Education

Global crises often bring surprises for schools. The first world war flagged up the high number of young soldiers who couldn’t read or write. In the second world war, middle-class country families despaired when evacuated children showed up malnourished and riven with lice. In the aftermath of both, politicians determined to make life better: focusing schools more on literacy and introducing daily milk and school nurses. Pandemics, like wars, temporarily change our way of life. Change happens fast. Schools may…

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‘Let your kids get bored’: emergency advice from teachers on schooling at home | Education

School may have closed for the foreseeable future, and all exams cancelled, but children still need to be educated and entertained – as well as reassured. Many schools plan to send work home and there are lots of free resources available via online platforms such as BBC Teach. But meanwhile, how do you even start home learning when this is all so new? We asked teachers for their emergency advice. Parents of primary children Prioritise your child’s wellbeing “Great learning…

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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.…

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Volunteers mobilise to ensure children get fed during school closures | Education

An army of parents, teachers and volunteers will mobilise next week to try to ensure that children who rely on free school meals do not go hungry while schools are closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has said that low-income families whose children are ordinarily eligible for the meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals, even if they are no longer attending school because of coronavirus closures coming into force from Friday. Around 1.3 million…

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‘We batter them with kindness’: schools that reject super-strict values | Education

It is a bitterly cold Yorkshire morning and outside a school in Barnsley staff are involved in the most important part of the school day. “All right, Kyle?” asks Dave Whitaker, the executive principal of Springwell special academy. “Morning, Kenzie. I saw some lovely writing of yours last night.” One by one, the children are greeted by staff with a warm smile and a personalised hello. The teachers’ enthusiasm, however genuine, is rarely reciprocated. Some students scowl, others grunt a…

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For children to learn they must be well fed | Letters | Education

What a sad reflection on the times we live in that there should even have to be a “debate” as to whether schools should provide free school meals to children at Key Stage 1 (Free school meals: should the taxpayer continue to fund them?, 10 March). Those against, such as Vic Goddard, CEO of a multi-academy trust (note the corporate title with all that implies about the marketisation of the state school system), seem to resort to the “only a…

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Charities preparing to feed children if schools shut over coronavirus | Education

A charity led by the archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to help feed children if schools are closed by coronavirus, amid fears the withdrawal of free school dinners could leave up to 3 million children at risk of hunger. Feeding Britain, which runs food poverty schemes in 12 areas of England including Cornwall, Leicester, Barnsley and South Shields, is exploring how to set up emergency programmes similar to those used to feed the poorest children during the summer holidays. The…

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Heads and councils press for extra £5.5bn for ‘struggling’ schools | Education

An alliance of headteachers, school governors, councils and unions are to lobby the chancellor for a further £5.5bn a year to help schools in England to avoid financial difficulties and cuts. The coalition, involving almost every significant organisation involved in state schools – including the National Governors Association and a bipartisan group representing both Conservative and Labour-led councils – is writing to Rishi Sunak before next week’s budget seeking additional funds, with a focus on “woefully underfunded” provision for pupils…

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‘It’s fun – everyone is different’: the Jewish school that unites all faiths | Education

Samuel’s favourite Jewish festival is Pesach, or Passover, which commemorates the exodus of Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The 10-year-old enjoys taking part in the seder, or ritual feast, which marks the start of the holiday. “The food is nice, and we sing songs and tell stories,” he said. This is unusual because Samuel comes from a Colombian Christian family. He and dozens of other non-Jewish children attend an orthodox Jewish school in north London, where he wears a kippah,…

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Downing tools in protest is not the way to solve headteachers’ Ofsted problems | Laura McInerney | Education

School inspections in England began in 1839 – they are older than the zip, toilet paper, or tea bags. But for the first time in the inspectorate’s history it is facing a major and potentially destabilising problem: school leaders are politely withdrawing their labour. A few years ago, Ofsted decided that instead of grading schools using inspectors who had never worked in one, it should recruit more school leaders; they would be employed part-time for the inspectorate, and as senior…

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Ofsted chief: funding cuts forcing schools to narrow curriculum | Education

Schools are cutting back the curriculum and not replacing teachers when they leave because of a growing funding crisis, the chief inspector of schools has said. In an unprecedented step, Ofsted’s Amanda Spielman laid out the impact of cuts in a blogpost that has since been removed because it was published “erroneously”. It will be published again in the coming weeks, along with a more detailed study on school funding. Spielman has previously been criticised after she said it would…

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Primary schools in England hold half-term Sats revision classes | Education

Primary schools in England are holding half-term and Easter holiday revision classes for pupils as young as six to prepare them for standardised tests known as Sats, the Guardian has learned. The use of holiday “booster sessions” for pupils in year two was robustly condemned by the Department for Education (DfE) and major teaching unions, with one union leader describing them as “an extraordinarily bad idea” with no positive impact. One primary school in north London has invited its year…

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Birmingham school stops LGBT lessons after parents protest | Education

A primary school that taught pupils about homosexuality as part of a programme to challenge homophobia has stopped the lessons after hundreds of children were withdrawn by parents in protest. Parkfield community school in Saltley, Birmingham, has been the scene of weekly protests over the lessons, which parents claim are promoting gay and transgender lifestyles. In a letter to parents, the school said: “Up to the end of this term, we will not be delivering any No Outsiders lessons in…

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An Ofsted inspection should not be like entering the dragons’ den | Letters | Education

What a disturbing account of disgraceful Ofsted inspections in your report (Outstanding primaries fail their Ofsted under new rules, 4 February). The Office for Standards in Education could have been valuable if it had treated teachers respectfully as fellow professionals to be inspected cordially, challenged where necessary, and guided and supported when appropriate. But instead, throughout its 28 years of existence, it has engendered fear in those inspected, and, where it found fault, conveyed its criticisms to public and parents…

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‘Schools are killing curiosity’: why we need to stop telling children to shut up and learn | Education

Young children sit cross-legged on the mat as their teacher prepares to teach them about the weather, equipped with pictures of clouds. Outside the classroom, lightning forks across a dark sky and thunder rumbles. Curious children call out and point, but the teacher draws their attention back – that is not how the lesson target says they are going to learn about the weather. It could be a scene in almost any school. Children, full of questions about things that…

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