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Daily News Summary
6 January 2022

image Coronavirus: DfE publishes evidence behind the decision to reintroduce face masks in the classroom
image Letters: "The implication is that some disciplines are second-class citizens in the school curriculum"
image Handwriting could become a lost skill if exams are digitised, author warns
image Universities should stop using 'first in family' as an indicator of widening access, report says

Coronavirus: DfE publishes evidence behind the decision to reintroduce face masks in the classroom

 

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a summary of the evidence behind its decision to temporarily reintroduce face masks in secondary school classrooms. The data, based on a DfE study, found that that COVID absence rates across schools using face coverings fell quicker compared to those who were not using masks. By Samantha Booth, Schools Week.

Russell Viner, professor of child and adolescent health at University College London and member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, has said that COVID vaccines are likely to be extended to all all five to 11-year-olds, adding that the “medical balance of risks” of giving younger children a jab would be “even more marginal than for teenagers”. By Will Hazell, iNews.

Professor Viner has also suggested that all vaccine centres in England should be offering jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds as standard to boost the slow uptake in the age group. By Will Hazell, iNews.

Addressing MPs yesterday, the education secretary said that teacher absence rates are likely to get worse this term due to COVID. Nadhim Zahawi said: “At the end of last year the figure was about 8 per cent of staff off, and that is probably likely to rise with increasing cases in school and of course young people as we return to school.” By Will Hazell, iNews.

Schools Week takes a closer look at six key points made by the education secretary yesterday when he addressed ministers in Parliament. By Freddie Whittaker.

 

Letters: "The implication is that some disciplines are second-class citizens in the school curriculum"

 

In a letter to The Times, Dr Millan Sachania, head at Streatham and Clapham High School, raises concerns over suggestions by Ofqual that specialist subjects should be suspended to focus on "core" lessons as a way of coping with staff shortages. He argues “our youngsters cannot emerge from the pandemic in good spirits without engaging with music, literature and the creative and performing arts”.

 
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The Times

Handwriting could become a lost skill if exams are digitised, author warns

 

Colm Toibin, known for writing novels such as Brooklyn and The Testament of Mary, has warned that handwriting could be "lost within a generation" after the exam board AQA announced it will trial digital GCSE exams at dozens of schools. By Daniel Capurro, The Times.

 
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The Times

Universities should stop using 'first in family' as an indicator of widening access, report says

 

A report from Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank has suggested that universities should stop using information about whether a student is the first in their family to go to university as a measure for how well they are widening access, claiming that too much weight has been placed on the status, which is self-declared and unverifiable. By Will Hazell, iNews.

 
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iNews

 

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