isc logo  

Daily News Summary
26 May 2020

Coronavirus: Government confirms plans for reopening primary schools on 1 June
App launched to connect disadvantaged students with Russell Group undergraduates
Not all children grow out of "picky eating", findings suggest

Coronavirus: Government confirms plans for reopening primary schools on 1 June


Prime minister Boris Johnson has said parents and teachers should prepare for the phased reopening of primary schools in England from 1 June. He acknowledged it "may not be possible" for all schools to open to more pupils, adding those "experiencing difficulties" will receive support from the Government. BBC News. Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said delaying the reopening of schools would have an "incredibly damaging" impact on children's learning, adding the virus "could be with us for a year or more". By Will Hazell, iNews. An article in The Telegraph offers answers to frequently asked questions about school reopenings, providing a detailed summary of the current timeline proposed by the Government. By Sally Peck and Camilla Turner. The article quotes Julie Robinson, chief executive of the ISC.

An article in The Telegraph reports local councils that refuse to allow primary schools to reopen next week could be told to "justify their actions". By Christopher Hope. The paper also reports a several councils have said they plan to allow local authority secondary schools to decide for themselves whether to reopen on 15 June, the date Year 10 and 12 students are expected to receive some contact time with their teachers. By Tony Diver.

BBC News reports teachers' unions remain unconvinced that reopening schools on 1 June is safe, following the publication of the scientific evidence behind the decision. By Sean Coughlan and Hannah Richardson. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, writes in The Guardian arguing the Government should focus on how, rather than when, schools will reopen. The National Education Union has accused the Government of taking a "cavalier" approach to reopening schools, as Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's chief scientific adviser, acknowledged the move is likely to "put pressure" on the rate of infection. By Will Hazell, iNews. An anonymous teacher writes in The Telegraph criticising unions' 'unrealistic demands' ahead of school reopenings. They also outline several things they want in order to return to school, including some personal protective equipment and no punishment for children for breaking social distancing rules.

The Telegraph reports Dutch and Swedish scientists have urged schools in Britain to reopen, arguing the risks posed to pupils and teachers are at "acceptable" levels. By Patrick Sawer, Senay Boztas, Richard Orange and Henry Samuel.

Dr Gavin Morgan, an expert in education psychology who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said fears about the reopening of schools are "misplaced", adding "they are safe and they are equipped to open". By Camilla Turner, The Telegraph. Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of the Government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, has described some measures put forward to keep children safe in schools as "extreme", arguing highly sanitised classrooms will leave children and teachers "miserable". By Victoria Ward, The Telegraph.

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser and chair of the 'Independent Sage' committee, has said the chances of an effective track and trace system being ready before schools reopen on 1 June are "virtually nil". By Catherine Lough, Tes.

According to a poll for The Observer, 43 per cent of primary school parents and 54 per cent of secondary school parents feel anxious about pupils' return to school. By Michael Savage. Tes reports on a survey of 5,000 Scottish education staff, which found 83 per cent of respondents are anxious about the prospect of returning to school. By Henry Hepburn. The Sunday Times features an interactive poll asking readers whether they would be happy to send their child back to school on 1 June. The final result will be published in the paper on 31 May.

The Telegraph reports independent school leaders are asking ministers for more control over which year groups they can welcome back from 1 June. By Camilla Turner. The article quotes Neil Roskilly, chief executive of the Independent Schools Association, and Christopher King, chief executive of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS). The paper also reports one in 10 independent schools may be forced to close as a result of financial pressures caused by coronavirus. By Marianna Hunt. A separate article in The Telegraph answers some frequently asked questions about the reopening of independent schools. The article mentions Benenden School and quotes Christopher King, chief executive of IAPS, and Sally-Anne Huang, chair-elect of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Jamie Greene, the Scottish Conservative education spokesman, has criticised education authorities amid claims state school pupils in Scotland are being "left behind" during the lockdown. By Marcello Mega, The Sunday Times. An article in The Telegraph reports the Scottish Conservatives have published a plan intended to provide "parity of learning provision" by giving state school pupils in Scotland "equal access" to computer equipment while at home. By Simon Johnson.

According to The Times, students unsatisfied with their grades this summer may have to wait until November to sit their exams. By Nicola Woolcock.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, a former Ofsted chief inspector, has expressed concern about some state schools remaining closed, warning it could widen the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their wealthier peers and lead to an increase in childhood obesity levels. By Sian Griffiths, The Sunday Times. The article quotes Christopher King, chief executive of IAPS.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, writes in The Times arguing the costs of not reopening schools would be "colossal", adding more investment is needed in post-compulsory schooling to equip students with vital skills "in the most unwelcoming labour market in generations".

According to a report seen by Sage advisers, the disruption caused by coronavirus will "persist and affect" children's educational and work outcomes "for the rest of their lives". By Sarah Knapton, Camilla Turner and Jack Hardy, The Telegraph.

The Barnardo's children's charity has called for a "readjustment period" in schools to support staff and pupils with their mental health and wellbeing post-lockdown. By Charles Hymas, The Telegraph.

Schools Week reports school kitchens face a planning "nightmare" ahead of next week's reopenings, after the Department for Education (DfE) said school meals should be provided for all pupils returning on 1 June. By Freddie Whittaker.

An article in Schools Week reports disadvantaged pupils are still waiting for laptops and tablets promised by the DfE, prompting some schools and education charities to approach philanthropists and local businesses for help. By Nicky Phillips, Schools Week. The Voices from Care Cymru charity has said a lack of access to technology during the lockdown poses an "unprecedented threat to the wellbeing of many vulnerable children and young adults". By Caleb Spencer, BBC News.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, writes in The Guardian calling on the Government to introduce a set of economic and social policies to "eradicate" child poverty.

Gemma Hargraves, a history teacher and head of lower school at an independent girls' school in the Midlands, outlines ways schools can support struggling museums and heritage attractions during the pandemic. Tes.


App launched to connect disadvantaged students with Russell Group undergraduates


Joe Seddon, a 22-year-old graduate who founded a mentoring scheme to help disadvantaged pupils into Oxbridge, yesterday launched an app called 'Zero Gravity', which aims to connect underprivileged students with current undergraduates at Russell Group universities. By Rosemary Bennett, The Times.

The Times

Not all children grow out of "picky eating", findings suggest


According to a new study, children can become established fussy eaters by the age of four, and attempts to change the habit may have the opposite effect. By Will Hazell, iNews.



The Independent Schools Council (ISC) monitors the national and educational press in order to keep independent schools up-to-date with relevant education news. The DNS is a service primarily for schools in membership of ISC associations, although other interested parties can choose to sign-up. We endeavour to include relevant news and commentary and, wherever possible, notable public letters. Where capacity allows, we may include links to ISC blogs, press statements and information about school or association events. News stories are selected based on their relevance to the independent sector as a whole. Editorial control of the DNS remains solely with the ISC.

Sign-up to the email service is available on our website.

Members can contact the ISC if they know in advance of news, letters or opinions that are likely to feature in the media, or are aware of existing coverage which they would like to see featured in the DNS.

Headlines and first-line summaries are written by the ISC with the link directing to the source material. You should read and comply with the terms and conditions of the websites to which we link.