Social exclusion

UK councils face lawsuits over access to education in lockdown | Education

The UK government must ensure pupils from poor backgrounds have computers and internet connections during the coronavirus lockdown or face legal action for depriving children of their education, according to a group of legal activists. The Good Law Project argues that the widespread reliance on online learning during the lockdown is illegally disadvantaging state school pupils who lack access to tablets, laptops or adequate broadband. It says it will sue local authorities to try to push the government into action.…

Read More

Council leaders call for funding for free school meals over Easter | Education

City leaders have said some of England’s most vulnerable children could go hungry over the Easter holidays because the UK government is refusing to fund free meals. Councils have been told they can continue to provide free school meals during the break if they want to but will have to find the money themselves. The mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, and the leaders of Birmingham and Leeds city councils, Ian Ward and Judith Blake, have written to the education secretary,…

Read More

‘I am deeply scared for so many children’: diary of a headteacher in lockdown | Education

This is my tenth year as a headteacher, mostly in challenging schools, and I have seen a lot of things. Staff and student deaths. Fires, floods, students with weapons. I’ve had threats from the English Defence League. But there have always been support teams behind me with advice. This crisis is different. In the past week we have had to tell distraught and fearful year 11 and year 13 students that there will be no exams this summer – without…

Read More

‘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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Before society can ‘level up’, the ruling Eton-Winchester clique needs levelling down | Fiona Millar | Education

It is hard to know what is most disheartening at this time of global insecurity: the prime minister’s lackadaisical insouciance, his showy advisers, smug ministers, or the invisible opposition? This week’s budget should root us back in the domestic arena, so I am going to add my own bete noire: the overused but underscrutinised phrase “levelling up”. We know more about what Dominic Cummings wears and reads than what he and the prime minister mean by it. In the recent…

Read More

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…

Read More

State schools choose ‘posh’ uniforms to exclude poor pupils, says MP | Education

Some schools are deliberately pricing school uniforms beyond the means of poorer families so “only posh kids go there”, MPs have been told. Emma Hardy, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, has written to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, asking him to tell schools to stop forcing parents to buy branded school uniforms. She said that academies in particular were “emulating grammar schools and private schools” in prescribing prohibitively expensive uniforms – including branded blazers and…

Read More

Attainment gap widens between disadvantaged pupils and their peers | Education

Ministers have said more must be done to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils in England, after last summer’s exam results showed the gap between children from poor families and their better-off peers had widened further. A breakdown of GCSE results issued by the Department for Education (DfE) showed the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others increased for the second year in a row. The introduction of tougher exams appear to have halted the improvement seen in previous years. “The…

Read More

Scotland is tackling barriers for estranged students – so should the rest of the UK | Becca Bland | Education

This week the Scottish government announced the first review of its kind into estranged young people in universities. This will bring vital recognition for those who exist off the radar of the care system but have no relationship with their parents. Not only will it gather data on these people for the first time, it will consider extending to them the bursary and corporate parenting entitlements that care-experienced young people receive. This is a critically important move. We often assume…

Read More

Top universities ‘not being chosen by low-income students’ | Education

Poorer students with good A-level grades are significantly more likely to opt for less prestigious universities than those with similar results from more advantaged backgrounds. This is the standout finding from major research that throws into question how effective higher education is in equalising opportunities. Successive governments have spent heavily to encourage disadvantaged students to go to university. The Office for Students in England recently set ambitious targets for wider access. But a team at the UCL Institute of Education…

Read More

Free period products to be available in schools and colleges in England | Education

Tampons, sanitary pads and other period products will be made freely available to all state schools and colleges in England starting next week, with the launch of a scheme funded by the Department for Education. The scheme follows the government’s commitment last year to pay for sanitary products for primary and secondary schools, in an effort to tackle “period poverty”, which can cause girls from low-income families to missschool. “We know that it is not easy for everyone to access…

Read More

London council launches free school meals pilot scheme | Education

A scheme to offer pupils free school breakfast and lunch irrespective of income has been launched in an attempt to tackle the growing food poverty crisis in parts of the UK. Hammersmith and Fulham council rolled out the scheme in west London on Wednesday. It said the national free school meals system was not working, leaving many children going to school hungry and remaining hungry throughout the day. Officials say the threshold for families to qualify for free school meals…

Read More

Everyone welcome: inside the schools that haven’t expelled a child since 2013 | Education

Jason Thurley, headteacher at Beacon academy, near Grimsby, leans across the table explaining why yet another of his pupils was excluded before joining the school. “He’d brought in a £1 potato gun. It was at the bottom of his bag and so he goes up to his form tutor and says, ‘I don’t want to get into trouble with this, sir, can you take it?’ And he gets permanently excluded. The school said ‘we have a zero-tolerance policy on firearms’.”…

Read More

Headteacher Judy Shaw: ‘My staff are fantastic but they can’t fight poverty’ | Education

On Judy Shaw’s first day as a headteacher, a man came to show her one of the school’s vast brick walls. She recalls: “He said, ‘Is that pointing all right for you then?’ and I stood there and I thought, this job is not what I thought it was going to be.” But 14 years later Shaw is still headteacher of Tuel Lane infant school in Sowerby Bridge, a town nestled along the River Calder in West Yorkshire. In that…

Read More

‘Many of our children don’t get presents’: schools open over Christmas for families with nothing | Education

Sammy will wake up on Christmas morning with little hope of a visit from Santa. He didn’t get a present last Christmas and it is unlikely he will get one this year, because his mother struggles just to put food on the table. But it is not all gloom for the lively eight-year-old. Next Monday, 23 December, his school will reopen and the teachers and support staff will return, unpaid, to organise a huge “Christmas Eve Eve” party for the…

Read More