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Daily News Summary
4 January 2021

Coronavirus: Safety concerns grow as primary schools reopen for pupils
Exams 2021: 'Health and safety should be prioritised ahead of exams'
Independently educated graduates 'twice as likely' to gain a place on the civil service's fast track scheme
Figures highlight North-South divide at Oxbridge universities
Government announces new Institute of Teaching

Coronavirus: Safety concerns grow as primary schools reopen for pupils


The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Association of School and College Leaders have taken preliminary steps in legal proceedings against the Department for Education, amid concerns over the safety of plans to reopen schools. By William Stewart, Tes.

Six unions have published a joint statement calling for the reopening of schools to be paused, warning: "Bringing all pupils back into the classroom while the rate of infection is so high is exposing education sector workers to serious risk of ill-health and could fuel the pandemic." By Dave Speck, Tes.

BBC News reports on the growing pressure on the Government to keep all schools in England closed for two weeks. The article quotes Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council.

Speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Boris Johnson urged parents to send their children to primary schools on Monday if they are open, saying there is "no doubt in my mind that schools are safe". BBC News.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson writes in The Mail on Sunday arguing "we must all move heaven and earth to get children back to the classroom where they best thrive".

The Independent reports teaching staff have expressed fears over the Government's plan for school reopenings. By Bethany Dawson.

Primary schools across England have contacted parents to say they will remain closed for health reasons, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable families. By Dominic Kennedy, Nicola Woolcock and Oliver Wright, The Times. The article quotes Neil Roskilly, vice-president of the Independent Schools Association. According to The Telegraph, some primary schools have been forced to remain closed due to staff shortages. By Dominic Penna.

BBC News reports a number of local authorities in England are calling on the Government to delay the reopening of primary schools.

MPs, unions and charities have written a letter to Boris Johnson urging him to take action to ensure children have the digital resources needed for home learning. By Clea Skopeliti, The Guardian.

The National Foundation for Educational Research has expressed concerns that schools "simply won't have had time to resolve" issues identified with remote learning back in March. By Steve Bird and Christopher Hope, The Telegraph.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted's chief inspector, writes in The Telegraph in favour of keeping schools open, arguing: "We cannot furlough young people's learning or their wider development."

Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, writes in The Times stating "teachers want schools to remain fully open but only if their can be achieved safely".

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, has called on employers to furlough parents unable to work due to childcare responsibilities. By Jane Clinton, iNews.

An article in iNews reports the Government's scientific advisers have said enhanced hygiene measures, including the wearing of face masks in England's secondary schools, may be necessary to curb the spread of the new COVID-19 variant. By Cahal Milmo.

Lord Kenneth Baker, a former Conservative education secretary, has said teachers and catering staff in schools should be prioritised for the vaccine. By Sam Meadows and Camilla Turner, The Telegraph.

Professor Martin Hibberd, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has said up to 70 per cent of children with coronavirus may be symptomless. By Robin McKie, The Observer.

Findings from a poll carried out by the National Deaf Children's Society suggest just 51 per cent of deaf children are receiving the specialist teaching support they need during the pandemic. By Clea Skopeliti, The Independent.


Exams 2021: 'Health and safety should be prioritised ahead of exams'


The Sunday Times reports headteachers from the WorthLess? campaign group have expressed concerns over plans for this year's exams, warning: "Public safety should not be risked or driven by an inflexible pursuit of GCSEs and A-levels." By Sian Griffiths and Oliver Wright.

Lindsay Paterson, professor of education policy at Edinburgh University, writes in The Sunday Times arguing exams are "the fairest form of assessment we have".


Independently educated graduates 'twice as likely' to gain a place on the civil service's fast track scheme


The Sunday Times reports on figures which show graduates who attended independent schools are more likely to secure a place on the civil service's fast track recruitment scheme than those educated at state schools. By Gabriel Pogrund and Gloria De Piero.

The Times

Figures highlight North-South divide at Oxbridge universities


Findings suggest pupils from northern education authorities are less likely to get in to Oxford or Cambridge than those in the home counties. By Matthew Davis, The Mirror.

Daily Mirror

Government announces new Institute of Teaching


The Government has confirmed it will establish a new Institute of Teaching, which is expected to train up to 1,000 new teachers every year from September 2022. By Freddie Whittaker, Schools Week.

Schools Week


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