UK news

Exam regulator unveils GCSE and A-level plans for coronavirus crisis | Education

Pupils taking GCSEs and A-levels this summer will have their grades awarded by a combination of teacher assessment, class ranking and the past performance of their schools, the exam regulator for England has announced. Ofqual, which oversees schools’ public examinations, laid out the new system to award grades after the government cancelled this summer’s exams because of the coronavirus crisis and the resulting school closures, which are likely to remain for the rest of the academic year. The new system…

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Forget freshers’ week: universities prepare to teach new first years online | Education

Sixth formers, whose A-level exams were cancelled because of coronavirus, may miss out on freshers’ week too. Universities have confirmed they are making plans to start the next academic year online if social distancing continues. Vice-chancellors are braced for potential huge losses from the lucrative international student market from September, following disruption to end-of-school learning and exams, as well as to the English-language testing required to get into a UK university. And now experts are warning that if social distancing…

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Cambridge University assigns white academic to look at slavery links | Education

The equal rights campaigner and former Labour politician Trevor Phillips has criticised the University of Cambridge’s “bizarre” decision to appoint a white academic as head of a study into the institution’s historical links with slavery. Prof Martin Millett of Fitzwilliam College is to oversee the two-year research project, which will investigate ways in which the university “contributed to or benefited from the Atlantic slave trade and other forms of coerced labour during the colonial era” in an effort to “acknowledge…

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Private schools in UK struggling as coronavirus costs bite | Education

Private schools in the UK are facing a battle for survival in the face of the coronavirus crisis as parents who have lost their income cancel direct debits and overseas pupils who have gone home decide whether to return. As the economic fallout from the pandemic begins to bite, there are fears that a number of smaller independent schools, which are already struggling, will be driven out of business. Many are offering fee discounts of anything from 10% right up…

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Interview: Gita Ramjee | Education

Months have passed, but Professor Gita Ramjee still recoils at the memory of events that came close to robbing South Africa of one of its top scientists. “There came a point when I thought: is it worth my while? I have dedicated my life to finding an HIV prevention option for the women of Africa, and these recent attempts to tarnish my efforts have been very demotivating.” It is fitting that we meet on a day when freak waves and…

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Councillor’s ‘oven-ready’ scheme to force private schools to pay their bit | Education

When councillor Libby Lisgo visits one of the most deprived estates in Taunton, in her ward of Priorswood, she can see the fence of Taunton school, one of the area’s famous independent schools. “While we are struggling to raise funds to take local residents on rare day trips, I can see a fleet of minibuses on the other side of that fence, sitting idle,” she says. “And I can’t help thinking: ‘Gosh, if only we could access those from time…

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UK students’ union calls on universities to cancel summer exams | Education

The National Union of Students has called on universities to cancel or postpone this summer’s exams to avoid further stress and disruption to students’ lives during the coronavirus pandemic. The NUS said disabled, international and poorer students would be significantly disadvantaged if universities go through with plans to hold online exams and assessments next term. It said final-year students should be given a choice of how to complete their degrees, such as receiving an estimated grade based on prior attainment,…

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Met to face judicial review over role of school police officers | Education

A London family has launched legal action over the role of police officers in schools, amid concerns that their presence could have disproportionately negative consequences for black and minority ethnic groups. Many schools in the capital and across the country have police officers attached to them for the safety and security of pupils and staff. In some cases, officers are permanently based at the school to intervene in the early stages of any criminal or disorderly behaviour and forge good…

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Students try to flee UK by chartered plane for ‘safer’ China | Education

A group of Chinese students who tried to charter a plane home are among thousands attempting to leave the UK because they believe they will be safer in China, universities say. With many international students left behind on deserted campuses – now mostly running a skeleton service – academics have been pitching in to call students and reassure them they aren’t alone. But universities report that Chinese students, who make up a third of non-European international students in the UK,…

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UK school closures prompt boom in private tuition | Education

The private tuition industry is booming amid the coronavirus pandemic, with school closures and fears of infection driving unprecedented demand for online teaching. UK tutoring firms said there had been a surge in online tuition in the past three weeks as parents anticipated and then responded to the decision to close schools indefinitely. Meanwhile, several agencies said some wealthy families had requested tutors go into isolation with them on remote country estates or super-yachts. Leo Evans, a co-founder of The…

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Hundreds of thousands of UK students call for tuition fee refunds | Education

Hundreds of thousands of students whose lives have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic have signed a petition calling for tuition fee refunds. Many students are also facing demands from landlords on many UK campuses for ongoing rent on their vacated rooms. An online petition to parliament for reimbursement of this year’s fees, posted this week by a geography undergraduate at the University of Liverpool, had gathered nearly 250,000 signatures by Wednesday evening. In the past two weeks British universities…

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Schools asked to donate science goggles for NHS to use as face shields | Education

Schools across England are being asked to donate science goggles and other apparatus to the NHS due to a shortage of protective equipment for doctors dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. The Guardian has heard from a number of schools and teachers who are responding to urgent messages from NHS trusts that need face shields as they deal with a growing number of cases. NHS England and the government have made a major effort since the weekend to address concerns about…

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Teachers: how has the first day of school general closures gone? | Education

Only the children of those considered key workers by the British government are now attending schools after general closures began on Monday because of the coronavirus. The majority of children will remain at home after the UK became the latest country to close its schools for the foreseeable future, with all exams cancelled, in the first countrywide school shutdown in modern British history. But children still need to be educated, entertained and reassured. Share your experiences Are you a teacher…

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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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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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