Social exclusion

New UK teachers’ union chief: ‘Institutional racism in schools has got to be addressed’ | Education

As the son of immigrant workers new to the UK, and growing up in the West Midlands, Patrick Roach never imagined he would one day be a trade union leader on first-name terms with government ministers. His parents, however, who arrived from Jamaica in the 1960s, believed in the power of education to change lives and were ambitious for him. So the new general secretary of the NASUWT, the 300,000-member teachers’ union, who took up his post in April, went…

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Organise catch-up summer schools to help disadvantaged pupils, UK told | Education

Pressure is mounting on the government to draw up plans for catch-up summer schools amid warnings that millions of pupils in England will face increasing distractions from home learning as lockdown measures are eased and shops reopen. The children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said headteachers were worried that some of their disadvantaged pupils would struggle to ever get back into doing school work after such prolonged closures, because the leap required would be so big. She told MPs on…

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Home school in Dagenham: three children, no tablet, no computer | Education

When Kelly Rivers left school at 15 she never dreamt she would one day be thrown into the role of teacher to three of her six children, and with no access to a computer, tablet or printer. But that is the challenge she has been facing under lockdown – and she has been finding it tough. “I have to message a friend whose child goes to the same school and ask what their children have been asked to do,” she…

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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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Many key workers fear pay falling below Home Office income requirement | UK news

More than 100,000 NHS staff in England, about half the women working as full-time carers, and 25% of the teaching force are putting their lives at risk during the crisis despite not earning enough to have the right to a family life in the UK, a report has found. The same immigration rule on income requirements also means that many key workers feel forced to work in dangerous conditions for fear of losing their jobs, which would cause their income…

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‘The gap will be bigger than ever’: grammar school exams still going ahead | Education

In this time of crisis, exams are off: GCSEs, A-levels, Sats. All except one … the 11-plus, a test that was phased out in most parts of the country decades ago, but that means everything to families in areas still operating a system of grammars and de facto secondary moderns. A quick scan of grammar school websites around the country shows that, so far, it is business as usual. The entire world may have stopped in its tracks but, in…

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Children could be recruited by gangs during lockdown, report says | Society

A “real risk” exists of criminal gangs recruiting young people out of school during the coronavirus lockdown, the children’s commissioner for England has warned in a report on deprivation in England. The report by Anne Longfield said hundreds of thousands of young people are off the radar of “early warning systems” such as schools, putting them at heightened risk. It calls for the government to ensure that councils and teachers stay in touch with those most vulnerable to exploitation, and…

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MPs call for grants to help students in difficulty | Education

MPs with university constituencies are calling on the government to set up emergency maintenance grants for students from low-income backgrounds who are in financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic. They are part of a cross-party campaign seeking to alert the chancellor to the students’ plight and calling on him to offer financial support to those who have lost jobs and are not entitled to claim universal credit. Layla Moran, the education spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, who is…

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The schools open during lockdown: ‘for some kids, it’s the only safe place’ | Education

Seamus Oates was deciding whether to keep his schools for vulnerable and difficult children open during the coronavirus crisis when an email from a teaching assistant dropped into his inbox. “Dear Seamus,” it read. “I have to admit I haven’t been overly concerned [about Covid-19]. Instead I have been selfishly thinking ‘oh I’ll just enjoy the time off work if it comes to it’. That was until a little reminder, a reality check, yesterday after a kid made a disclosure…

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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…

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UK’s poorest families suffering as free school meal vouchers delayed | Education

Many families whose children are eligible for free school meals have not received supermarket vouchers as promised by the government because of delays in the supply system, school leaders say. Headteachers and school business managers in England said the problem was widespread, and many took to social media to complain about difficulties accessing the scheme and delays in delivering vouchers to the families who need them. Until now there has been support for the government’s announcement of a national voucher…

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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.…

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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,…

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‘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…

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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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