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ISC Daily News Summary

ISC Daily News Summary 29 November 2021

Coronavirus: Government reintroduces masks for communal areas in secondary schools

General education

The Government has said that face masks should be worn in communal areas in English secondary schools and colleges to slow the spread of the Omicron COVID variant. Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, said: "We will continue to prioritise children's and young people's education and wellbeing, making sure education and childcare settings are as safe as possible and children continue to benefit from classroom teaching." By Victoria Lindrea, BBC News.

MPs have warned that the Omicron variant will lead to “chaos” in schools as children will be instructed to self-isolate as a result of new COVID rules. Ministers added that the decision risks a repeat of the summer term when thousands of healthy children were told to stay at home. By Camilla Turner, The Telegraph.

According to BBC News, in light of the new COVID variant, the Department for Education has sent an email to secondary schools urging them to be prepared to test pupils when they return to school in January. By Malu Cursino.

The Telegraph has reported that booster jabs are to be offered to all adults, and that the prime minister has asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to consider whether 12 to 15-year-olds should now be offered a second dose. By Laura Donnelly.

School leaders have expressed concerns about the low take-up of COVID vaccinations among secondary students and are calling on the Government to consider introducing more measures to prevent further disruption to education in schools. By Helen Chapman, Tes.

Schools Week takes a closer look at what schools need to know about the new COVID guidance. By John Dickens.

Economist Jack Worth, from the National Foundation for Educational Research, has warned of a future teacher supply shortage as initial teacher training applications have dropped to below pre-pandemic levels. By Matilda Martin, Tes.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council is facing legal action over claims children in clinically vulnerable families have been told they must attend school or face a fine despite the ongoing pandemic. By Samantha Booth, Schools Week.

Loosening the Old School Tie: Radio 4 documentary explores the value of an independent education

Independent sector

A Radio 4 documentary entitled 'Loosening the Old School Tie' investigates whether an independent school education is of value to parents as well as looking at issues facing the sector. The documentary features interviews with Jane Lunnon, head of Alleyn's School, Nick Hewlett, head of St Dunstan's College, and Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council.

"The English curriculum is a great example of how schools can tailor content to their students"

Teaching and learning

The education secretary has applauded teachers "for responding with enthusiasm to the calls from their students to see a greater diversity in the authors and works discussed in class" when asked about the introduction of more diverse texts in English lessons. Tes.

"I love my job and I never thought my career would end like this"


The Guardian speaks to headteachers who have resigned over "brutal" Ofsted inspections. One of the anonymous heads said: “Since I was 15 all I’ve wanted to do was teach. But now I’m leaving because I really feel the kids aren’t being put first and staff are being pushed to breaking point – and I don’t want to be part of it.” By Anna Fazackerley.

Local council refuses to issue questionnaire that asks schoolchildren about sex

Child welfare

West Lothian council in Scotland has refused to issue a questionnaire to schools that asks pupils about their sex lives. The council has said that the questionnaire, which asks pupils how much sexual experience they have had, “brought up significant concerns”. By Constance Kampfner, The Times.

Education secretary urges schools to diversify governing boards

General education

Speaking at the National Governance Association's annual conference, Nadhim Zahawi said: “We need to do more to encourage those who may not ever have considered volunteering as a governor or trustee but who still have so much to offer, who could bring a fresh perspective perhaps or a specific skill that a board really needs.” By James Carr, Schools Week.

Ukulele edging out the recorder in school music lessons

Teaching and learning

A new report by ABRSM, which runs music exams, has found that fewer children are playing the recorder in schools, with the ukulele becoming a more common instrument to learn in music lessons. By Nicola Woolcock, The Times. The article mentions Sheffield High School for Girls as a school teaching pupils to play the ukulele.

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