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Daily News Summary
25 February 2021

Coronavirus: Schools given the green light to start testing pupils before 8 March
Exams 2021: GCSE and A-level grades to be decided by teachers
"We need to rethink the way learning is assessed"
Children's commissioner for Wales publishes safeguarding review

Coronavirus: Schools given the green light to start testing pupils before 8 March


The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed secondary schools and colleges will be allowed to start administering on-site coronavirus tests to pupils before 8 March. By Freddie Whittaker, Schools Week.

Richard Cairns, headmaster at Brighton College, writes to The Times suggesting secondary school pupils should be offered a COVID-19 test at an existing testing centre next week, enabling teachers to "focus without distraction on repairing the damage done to too many children's education and wellbeing in recent months". The letter can be found halfway down the page.

According to operational guidance from the DfE, while the wearing of masks in secondary school classrooms is advised, "no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering". By Camilla Turner, The Telegraph.

Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, has said the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout should be decided by age, stating there "isn't a strong scientific argument" for the prioritisation of teachers. By Henry Bodkin, The Telegraph.

New research commissioned by the DfE has found Year 7 pupils who returned to school half a term earlier than other age groups last year suffered less learning loss than those continuing to learn remotely. By Dave Speck, Tes.

Colin Baty, headmaster of Bedales Prep School, writes in Attain arguing a 'progressive' approach, focusing on children as individuals with their own needs, will be key to supporting pupils when schools reopen next month.

Annabel Denham, director of communications at the Institute of Economic Affairs, writes in The Times advocating "fundamental adjustments" to the education system to support pupils post-pandemic.

The DfE has confirmed its new £302 million "COVID recovery premium" will be distributed to schools on the same basis as the pupil premium. By Freddie Whittaker, Schools Week.

According to The Times, grammar schools are being told to consider using catch-up funding to support the learning of "potential applicants who come from disadvantaged households". By Nicola Woolcock.

The Telegraph features an article on Tutor the Nation, a new scheme which will see university students helping state school pupils to catch up on their learning. By Sarah Rodrigues.

Robert Verkaik writes in The Times that some parents of children in independent schools are seeking refunds for teaching and boarding services amid ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic. The article features a quote from the Independent Schools Association.

Ofsted has announced it will pause its remote monitoring inspections for the week schools are due to reopen. By James Carr, Schools Week.

According to a new report, widespread school closures caused by the pandemic have "ended a decade of growth for school meals programmes". By Jordan Kelly-Linden, The Telegraph.


Exams 2021: GCSE and A-level grades to be decided by teachers


Ofqual has confirmed that teachers will be expected to determine GCSE and A-level grades this year, using a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays. By Sean Coughlan, BBC News.

The Telegraph reports exam boards will prepare a series of question papers for every subject, but teachers will have discretion over whether or not to use them to inform their predicted grades. By Camilla Turner and Harry Yorke.

The DfE has announced that students studying BTECs and other vocational qualifications will receive teacher-assessed grades this year. By Kate Parker, Tes.


"We need to rethink the way learning is assessed"


Alistair McConville, director of learning and innovation at Bedales School, writes in The Telegraph reflecting on a project the school has created to give pupils a better understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis. He argues courses like this, which use alternative forms of assessment, deliver "a more engaging, relevant experience for our young people" than exams.

The Telegraph

Children's commissioner for Wales publishes safeguarding review


A review conducted by Professor Sally Holland, the children's commissioner for Wales, has identified a failure by Welsh ministers to close "safeguarding loopholes" to protect children attending independent schools. By India Pollock, BBC News. The article quotes Gareth Pearson, chair of the Welsh Independent Schools Council.



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