Teacher Network

Plans to reopen English primary schools before summer in disarray | Education

Plans to push ahead with reopening schools in England are in disarray, after the government admitted that not all primary school pupils will be able to return to the classroom before the end of summer. Boris Johnson last month said his aim was “to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages,” as he announced the opening of primary schools to pupils in reception, year one and year six from 1 June. But government sources now acknowledge that – with…

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I’m a great teacher, honest. But schools beat me hands down on everything else | Miranda Sawyer | Education

Uniform washed, book bag filled, mask on? Then you’re all set for Back To School! Actually, could you put that book bag in this bin for disinfection? Some – but not all – children in England will be trotting back to familiar playgrounds on Monday. Though several schools aren’t opening and many parents don’t want to send their children in, hundreds of primary schools will be welcoming reception, year 1 and year 6 students, plus the children of key workers.…

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Home schooling boosts parents’ interest in teaching as a career | Education

School closures have turned the UK into a nation of temporary teachers since the coronavirus lockdown – and that may have inspired some people to seek new careers in the classroom, according to a new survey. Now Teach, the charity co-founded by the former journalist Lucy Kellaway, encourages older workers to change careers, and has found that the lockdown has increased the status of school teachers among the population at large, as parents have come to appreciate the joys of…

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PM accepts some English primary schools may not return on 1 June | Education

Boris Johnson is pressing ahead with plans to reopen schools on 1 June but moved to appease councils and teaching unions by acknowledging for the first time that primary schools in England won’t have to reopen to more pupils until they are prepared. The acknowledgment by the prime minister came in his opening statement at the daily Covid-19 press conference on Sunday, in which Johnson said the government wanted primary schools to plan for allowing pupils in reception, year one…

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Only 5% of teachers think it safe to reopen English schools, poll shows | World news

A leading teaching union has warned the government it will have to do more to win the trust of teachers, after a poll of almost 30,000 members found just 5% believed it was safe for more children to return to schools in England from 1 June. The NASUWT’s snapshot survey revealed soaring levels of anxiety among teachers, with the overwhelming majority describing government plans for reopening primary schools as confusing and unsafe. Ninety-five per cent of those polled said they…

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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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Patient, amusing, inspirational… teachers have always made a difference | World news

I was eavesdropping on my son’s remote A-level history lesson, and liked what I heard. It was all about Henry VII, who ruthlessly sought new ways to pay for a heavily indebted state (sound familiar, Rishi Sunak?). Actually I wasn’t listening to the detail so much as to the teacher himself – patient, amusing, bringing everyone into the game, even the naughty ones who were almost certainly painting their nails or watching silly videos of Matt Lucas pretending to be…

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Teachers can legally refuse to return over health risk, says union | Schools

Teachers can legally refuse to return when schools reopen unless they get the same protections against coronavirus as other frontline staff, one of the UK’s leading teaching unions has warned. In a letter to local authorities seen by the Guardian, the 300,000-strong NASUWT threatens to invoke legal action to defend teachers against being forced back into schools on 1 June because of the risk to their health. The union’s letter marks a significant hardening against the government’s push to reopen…

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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…

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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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UK schools will not reopen straight after Easter, officials say | Education

Schools across the UK will not reopen immediately after the Easter holidays, after national governments insisted they would only do so when scientific advice said it was safe to proceed. Teaching unions said their members were alarmed by a newspaper report that schools could reopen after the holidays and a review from University College London that cast doubt on the effectiveness of school closures in limiting the spread of disease. But Whitehall sources said no date had been set to…

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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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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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Schools in England could close when teachers self-isolate | Education

Growing numbers of schools in England could be forced to close and send children home as a result of staff shortages, as teachers with symptoms follow government guidance to self-isolate, teaching unions have warned. The government confirmed on Monday schools should remain open in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak for the time being but school leaders fear this may not be possible if there are too few staff available to teach and supervise pupils. Mary Bousted, joint general secretary…

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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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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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