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Daily News Summary
30 June 2021

Coronavirus: Ministers consider plans to relax COVID measures amid surge in school absences
Consultation inspires debate about the use of mobile phones in schools
A closer look at the independent schools pledging to reach zero carbon by 2030
Primary schoolchildren favour online chats over in-person conversation

Coronavirus: Ministers consider plans to relax COVID measures amid surge in school absences


Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said he is working with ministers to "relax COVID measures in schools", amid a steep rise in the number of COVID-related absences. By Freddie Whittaker, Schools Week.

New figures from the Department for Education show that more than 375,000 pupils were absent from school for COVID-related reasons - the highest number since the return to school in March. By Sean Coughlan and Katherine Sellgren, BBC News.

Sarah Croft, senior statistician for the Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey, has suggested that COVID cases among young children will not spike if school self-isolation rules are scrapped in autumn, as the main increase in infections appears to be among those in Year 12 up to those aged 24. By Jasmine Andersson, iNews.

According to analysis by The Telegraph, on average, 1.5 per cent of children in the most disadvantaged areas have been self-isolating each week, compared to 0.8 per cent in wealthier areas. By Camilla Turner, Ben Butcher, Harry Yorke and Laura Donnelly.

Speaking to Sarah Urwin on BBC Radio York, Guy Emmett, headmaster of Scarborough College, explains how a clinical trial is allowing children at the school who come into close contact with a positive COVID case to remain in class, provided they themselves test negative for the virus. (Listen from 2:09:00). The Telegraph offers information on how the new testing system, currently being trialled by about 200 schools, will remove the need for whole bubbles of children to self-isolate. By Mason Boycott-Owen.

Sir Kevan Collins, the former education recovery commissioner, has described the amount of funding allocated to school catch-up as "feeble", adding that the scale of the disruption "requires a massive national effort to recover". By Will Hazell, iNews.

A systematic review into the impact of school closures has found that half of teenagers have been suffering anxiety and trauma in the wake of the COVID lockdowns. By Laura Donnelly and Rosie Taylor, The Telegraph.

Writing in The Telegraph, Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of Childline, argues: "We cannot afford to ignore the huge impact of the last 18 months on our children's mental health."

Russell Viner, professor of adolescent health at University College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, writes in The Telegraph stating: "Children's interests must now be paramount, with a particular focus on how to make up for their lost education."

An analysis piece in The Times considers the arguments for and against vaccinating children against COVID-19. By Chris Smyth.

Ministers have been warned that it will be "logistically impossible" for many camps and play schemes to go ahead unless COVID restrictions are eased over the summer holidays. By Camilla Turner, The Telegraph.

School minister Nick Gibb has said that around 60 local authorities with high infection rates are advising secondary school pupils to continue wearing face masks. By Mason Boycott-Owen, The Telegraph.

Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central and chair of the Digital Skills All-Party Parliamentary Group, writes in The Times in response to reports of the mass disposal of new or unused technology by Amazon. She argues: "Throwing computers away when children need them is a national disgrace."

Adam Kleczkowski, a pandemic forecaster with Public Health Scotland, has said it would be "berserk" to lift all restrictions in the week schools go back, unless first minister Nicola Sturgeon intends to expose children to coronavirus to achieve herd immunity. By Mark McLaughlin, The Times.


Consultation inspires debate about the use of mobile phones in schools


Jane Prescott, headmistress of Portsmouth High School GDST, writes to The Times arguing banning mobile phones in schools "does not solve the problem of poor behaviour and is almost impossible to totally enforce". In a separate letter, Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, reflects on the success of the school's phased ban on mobile phones, saying: "Pupils now chat far more than they ever did, developing their social skills in a natural way".

Anna McShane, deputy director of Public First, writes in The Times arguing the removal of smartphones in classrooms would enable teachers to "focus on what they do best, educating".

Izzy Stone, a teenager, writes in The Times in favour of a mobile phone ban in schools, claiming: "Teenagers are not mature enough to use smartphones in class for educational purposes."

An editorial piece in The Times states: "Learning how to navigate in a world of new technologies is an essential part of childhood education, and it is perfectly reasonable that the Government should issue centralised advice."


A closer look at the independent schools pledging to reach zero carbon by 2030


IE Today reports 34 independent schools have signed up to the Let's Go Zero campaign, with the aim of becoming carbon zero by 2030. By Jo Golding. The article mentions Benenden School and quotes Jenny Chapman, biology teacher and head of sustainability at North London Collegiate School.

Is your school involved in any sustainability projects? If you are able to provide details about this work, we would like to hear from you. For more information, please email

IE Today

Primary schoolchildren favour online chats over in-person conversation


A new report has found that three times as many primary school pupils would prefer to chat to their friends online than in person. By Nicola Woolcock, The Times.

The Times


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