English schools’ return could lead to new surge, experts warn | Schools

Opening schools to more children from Monday could lead to a new surge of infections of Covid-19 in the community, a group of independent scientists has warned. The report, by the Independent Sage group, suggested that plans for whole classes to return to school in England on 1 June could increase the R-value of infections by 0.3 – potentially enough to put the country back on an ever increasing trajectory of infections. The committee accused the government of not listening to its own…

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It is reckless to reopen schools before it is safe | Letters | Education

The government’s decision to push ahead with reopening schools on 1 June is reckless and dangerous. Britain still has the highest death toll in Europe. The National Education Union, whose members are being asked to work in schools, has rightly raised the question of five tests before schools reopen. These should be met before any return to schools – and other workplaces – is considered. Some local councils have said that schools will not be ready to open on 1…

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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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Dear Gavin Williamson: teachers like me can no longer look to you for leadership | Gary Collins | Opinion

Dear Gavin Williamson, Ten years ago I was a soldier serving as an intelligence analyst in Helmand province in Afghanistan. The coalition government had just come to power, and we were visited by a delegation of ministers including Liam Fox, the new Defence secretary. With hundreds of eyes staring him down, he stood there, in the heart of a land where so many British servicemen and women were still losing their lives, and told us that life was going to…

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Unions chief: lack of planning risks chaotic reopening of schools | Education

Ministers must avoid a “last-minute” approach to reopening England’s schools, the head of the umbrella organisation of unions has said, as the government’s scientific experts prepare to publish evidence about the safety of the move. With just 10 days to go until 1 June, the date named by Boris Johnson for more children to return to classrooms, the TUC secretary general, Frances O’Grady, is pressing the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, to establish a taskforce, which would include people from unions…

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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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Marking books not safe suggests new coronavirus guidance for teachers | Education

A growing number of councils in England are warning parents not to expect schools to open on 1 June, as new union guidance for teachers suggests it will not be safe to mark children’s books. Bury council in Greater Manchester is the latest to confirm that primary schools will not reopen for some pupils on the government’s target date at the start of next month, pointing out that Covid-19 infections in the area are still too high. Tamoor Tariq, lead…

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Split classes, outdoor lessons: what Denmark can teach England about reopening schools after Covid-19 | Education

In the week leading up to the reopening of Denmark’s schools a month ago, Dorte Lange spent a lot of time on Skype. The vice-president of the Danish Union of Teachers was responsible for detailed negotiations with the education minister, the health authorities and other teaching unions. The aim was to make sure that everyone was happy with the safety measures put in place to ensure an orderly return of younger pupils to classrooms on 15 April. “As unions, we…

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Teaching unions vow to work towards reopening English schools | Education

Teaching unions say they are willing to work with the government to begin reopening schools in England as long as it can be done safely, amid concerns about a renewed coronavirus outbreak. The debate over Boris Johnson’s decision to return some primary pupils to classrooms on 1 June has grown increasingly acrimonious after the British Medical Association (BMA) backed teaching unions who said the government was moving too quickly. Pressure on the unions increased after the children’s commissioner for England…

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England plans to send the wrong children back to school at the wrong time | Laura McInerney | Education

We have built a world where parents need the childcare provided by the school system. In some families parents are working at night, or rising at 5am to sustain a struggling business before their children wake up. They may more urgently feel the need for schools to reopen than those who can happily juggle a few hours of homeschooling with working from home. But think about what primary teachers are facing with the prospect of suddenly going back to school…

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Prolonged school closures risk damaging children’s education, No 10 warns | Schools

Downing Street has warned of the risks to children’s education of prolonging school closures, as the government doubles down on plans for a phased reopening from 1 June. Education unions have reacted angrily to the plan, which would see reception and years 1 and 6 return first, calling it “reckless”, and warning that schools have not been given enough time to prepare. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, wrote in the Daily Mail that teachers should be ready to “do their…

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Unions warn of ‘lack of understanding’ over English school reopenings | Education

A coalition of nine unions representing hundreds of thousands of teachers, school leaders and support staff have accused the government of a “lack of understanding” about the dangers of coronavirus spreading within schools and to the wider community. In a joint statement they called on ministers to step back from plans for a phased reopening schools in England beginning on 1 June and said classrooms of four- and five-year-olds could become sources of Covid-19 transmission. However, the education secretary, Gavin…

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Not yet safe for UK schools to reopen amid coronavirus crisis, unions warn | Education

Schools must not reopen until a UK-wide “test, trace and isolate” scheme is under way and families believe it is safe for children to return to the classroom, a coalition of unions representing school leaders and staff has told the government. The joint statement by the Trades Union Congress says there should be “no increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme”. It calls for funds to provide staff with personal protective equipment (PPE)…

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Primary schools in England could reopen on 1 June, reports say | Schools

Primary schools are to be prioritised for reopening, Boris Johnson has indicated, with reports suggesting that groups of pupils could return to classrooms as early as 1 June as the coronavirus lockdown is eased. “One of the things we want to do as fast as we can is get certainly primary schools back,” the prime minister told the Sun on Sunday. “It’s not going to be easy but that’s where we want to go. It’s about working out a way…

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Coronavirus UK: Universities face £2.5bn tuition fee loss next year | Education

Capping the number of students who can attend each British university will not stave off the financial catastrophe that institutions face following the coronavirus outbreak, a report from the University and College Union (UCU) warns. The report forecasts the sector could lose around £2.5bn next year in tuition fees alone, along with the loss of 30,000 university jobs, based on gloomy predictions of international and domestic students staying away if Covid-19 continues unchecked. The government is negotiating with the university…

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Older pupils ‘should be first’ when England’s schools reopen | Education

A headteachers’ union is calling for older pupils to return to school first as part of a phased approach to reopening schools in England, amid warnings that students preparing for exams may need to repeat the whole year because of the impact of lost learning. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said the pupils who have most to gain from getting back to school are those in years 10 and 12 who are in the middle of GCSE…

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