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Daily News Summary
6 January 2021

Exams 2021: Teachers will be asked to assess pupils' grades, education secretary confirms
Coronavirus: PM unable to guarantee the reopening of schools before the summer holidays
'Schools must take action to make their teacher recruitment processes more inclusive'

Exams 2021: Teachers will be asked to assess pupils' grades, education secretary confirms


Education secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed that A-level and GCSE exams are to be replaced with teacher assessments, saying: "We're going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms." BBC News.

The Times reports headteachers and education leaders have criticised the decision to cancel this year's GCSEs and A-level exams. By Chris Smyth and Nicola Woolcock. The article quotes Richard Tillett, head of Queen's College London, and Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council.

The UCAS deadline for university applications has been postponed to 6pm on 29 January following changes to this year's GCSEs and A-levels. By Dan Bloom, The Mirror.

Schools Week reports the Department for Education has said school and college leaders can decide whether to cancel BTEC assessments this month, despite previously stating they would go ahead as planned. By John Dickens.

Robert Halfon, chairman of the Education Select Committee, has suggested retired teachers and Ofsted inspectors could check pupils' GCSE and A-level grades, "making judgments against teachers' assessments of pupils based on tests or coursework". By Nicola Woolcock, The Times. The article quotes Dr Simon Hyde, general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the ISC, and heads of schools in membership of the ISC's constituent associations.

Martin Stephen, a former high master and chair of governors of an inner-city comprehensive, writes in The Telegraph arguing extending the academic year by one term could help solve the dilemma surrounding exams.


Coronavirus: PM unable to guarantee the reopening of schools before the summer holidays


iNews reports Boris Johnson has refused to guarantee that children will be able to return to school before the summer holidays. By Richard Vaughan.

Schools Week reports on concerns that special schools could be forced to close completely unless the Government urgently updates its guidance on vulnerable children. By Samantha Booth.

Unison, Britain's biggest union, has called on the Government to close nurseries and pre-schools to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers. By Maya Wolfe-Robinson, The Guardian.

Liz Cole, co-founder of the campaign organisation UsForThem, writes in The Telegraph criticising the decision to close schools, arguing "the detrimental effect on children is certain".

Professor Steve Turner, Scotland officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, has criticised the decision to close schools, saying: "Individuals aged under 16 in Scotland come to very little harm from either the old form and the new form of the virus." By Mark McLaughlin, The Times. James Leitch, the national clinical director for Scotland, has said schools across the country had to be shut because scientists "simply don't know enough yet" about the transmission of the new variant among young people. By Helen Puttick and Mark McLaughlin, The Times.

Guy Sanderson, headmaster at Eltham College, writes to The Times expressing the school's eagerness to help its local community and the wider national effort by becoming a vaccine distribution hub. Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, also writes to The Times urging the Government to consider prioritising teachers for the vaccine to help schools reopen safely. Both letters can be found a quarter of the way down the page.

Robert Halfon, chair of the Education Select Committee, has called on the Government to "use the time over this period during school closures up to the half-term to vaccinate teachers". By Jess Staufenberg, Schools Week.

According to Tes, a petition calling for teachers and school staff to be prioritised for the vaccine has reached 270,000 signatures, passing the threshold triggering a parliamentary debate. By Dave Speck.

An article in The Telegraph reports disadvantaged pupils may have to wait months for new laptops to enable them to study remotely. By Hannah Boland and Morgan Meaker. The Guardian reports on updated guidance from the Government which states children in England who do not have access to a laptop are considered "vulnerable", and can therefore attend school for face-to-face learning. By Ben Quinn, Helen Pidd and Josh Halliday.

BBC News reports internet providers have been urged to make data packages more affordable for low-income families with children taking part in remote learning. By Leo Kelion.

Justine Greening, a former education secretary and co-founder of the Social Mobility Pledge, writes in The Times arguing a comprehensive education plan is needed to support the levelling-up strategy, which has become a 'more profound challenge' during the pandemic.

The BBC has confirmed it will broadcast lessons for primary and secondary school pupils during lockdown. BBC News.

The Telegraph outlines its 'Keep Kids Active' campaign, which contains five asks of the Government to ensure children and young people remain active during lockdown. By Jeremy Wilson and Tom Morgan.


'Schools must take action to make their teacher recruitment processes more inclusive'


Thishani Wijesinghe, head of English at San Silvestre School, Peru, writes in Tes outlining six ways schools can become more diverse by making their teacher recruitment processes more inclusive.



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