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Top scientists from the respected Independent SAGE group have released a report saying it is not safe for schools to open more widely on June 1.
The report concludes that delaying by two weeks – to June 15 – would halve the risks to children, while waiting until September would be even less risky. The scientists are clear that 1 June is not safe.
The report, which quotes the National Education Union’s Five Tests, says:
- Test, track and isolate programmes must be in place before schools reopen more widely: this been crucial in school reopening in other countries.
- The issue of schools reopening does not just have implications for pupils, but also for adult staff, parents and their communities.
- Wider school opening in other countries, such as Denmark, has only been done after large investment in measures such as additional washing facilities.
- Each school needs to consult widely with staff, unions, parents, local authorities and others and carry out risk assessments before proceeding.
- Local infection and death rates should be considered before making decisions on wider opening.
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Join 16-year-old Christina, who is calling on Boris Johnson to “Save Our Lunches”. Her petition has already attracted more than 80,000 signatures: please add yours.
More than 1.3 million children rely on free school meals, but the Government has decided not to provide them during next week’s half term. Sign the petition to change their minds and stop children going hungry next week.
Parents, teachers, academics, medics, other unions and even Piers Morgan agree: Schools should open more widely only when it’s safe.
Have you got an amazing teacher? We want to see how many teachers & support staff we can thank for this year’s National #ThankATeacher Day – May 20
Follow Suzie and Leone’s lead as they say a big thank you to their teachers at St Luke’s Primary School in Brighton.
Campaigning organisation Send My Friend To School is offering families a home learning pack exploring the impact climate change is having on children’s education around the world.
In recent years, the climate crisis has become a reason for children missing out on education. The progress that’s been made around the world to build classrooms, train teachers and provide resources is being rolled back by the impacts of climate change, especially in developing countries which are more vulnerable to extreme weather.
More than 90% of the world’s school-aged children have had their education disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but most will return to class once the emergency is over. However 260 million children around the world do not go to school at all. The learning pack, which is suitable for children aged 10-15, invites young people to think critically about one of the biggest reasons why this is so, and work out the best solutions to ensure every child has the right climate to learn.
Many questions about the Government’s plan for wider opening of schools remain unanswered. On Friday, the NEU’s Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney met the Government’s scientific advisers to press again for the evidence ministers are using.
We all want children and young people to be back in school as soon as possible. But when this happens, it is vital that it is safe. We need to know how much children transmit to one another and to adults and what the risk is for society as a whole.
Children and young people are invited to enter a “homeschool” competition to explore Black British History and multicultural Britain.
Open to all age groups, the competition, which is sponsored by the National Education Union, is part of the launch of the 100 Great Black Britons campaign created by Patrick Vernon OBE, to celebrate the continued legacy and achievements of Black people in Britain.
Children and young people are asked to create a fun and unique project celebrating Black Britons and their legacy. To find out more and enter, visit www.100greatblackbritons.co.uk
A National Education Union poll of more than 1,000 parents has found a third do not immediately plan to send their children back to school once lockdown is relaxed.
The survey shows strong support for lockdown measures and for the Government to meet certain criteria for schools to be safe before they reopen. Parents say they support the general closure of schools (86%), keeping schools open to disadvantaged children (81%), suspending Ofsted inspections (80%) and cancelling of GCSE and A-level exams (65%).
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “With an aspiration to open schools more widely in less than three weeks from now, the Prime Minister is squandering a great deal of parental goodwill. He needs to act fast to reassure unions, school staff and parents that when schools do open it will only be when our shared and widespread concerns for personal safety are fully met.”
Sunday’s announcement by the Government that primary schools “may” reopen from June 1 with reception and years 1 and 6 fails to meet the union’s Five Tests to ensure safety.
Within one hour on Sunday evening, 49,000 members of the NEU responded to a survey about the Government’s announcement, giving a resounding “no” to the Prime Minister’s roadmap for wider school reopening.
A survey of 250,000 parents has revealed 90% do not want to see their children return to school immediately after the Government ends lockdown.
In the poll by parenting and education charity Parentkind, 10% said they would be happy to wait until staff and pupils have been vaccinated, even if this takes up to 18 months. Parentkind is calling on the Government to ensure parents’ voices are heard along with educators’, and shape Government decisions about reopening schools.
The survey also reveals parents’ top 5 biggest concerns about COVID-19 as:
- Children not seeing friends or socialising (48% of respondents)
- Children missing out on learning (38%)
- One or more family members contracting COVID-19 (35%)
- Their children’s mental health (35%)
- Their ability to juggle working and supporting their child’s learning (31%).
The NEU has joined more than 100 organisations in calling for the Government to take care of carers during the Coronavirus crisis.
The union has signed an open letter, coordinated by charity Oxfam, urging the Government to protect carers – paid and unpaid – from poverty, now and in the future.
The letter asks the Government to better value and reward carers, and pushes for greater recognition of the undervaluing of care as a global issue.
A survey of NEU members has revealed significant concerns among school staff about how prepared schools are to reopen to a significant number of pupils. Almost two-thirds of the 2,560 respondents said they were ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the social distancing measures in their school for pupils, while around a quarter of the 2,560 respondents said their school did not have sufficient supplied of soap and/or hand sanitiser. The same proportion said there was no routine of hand washing at their school.
The charity Parentkind is supporting the NEU on the safe reopening of schools. The organisation – which represents parent teacher associations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – is backing the NEU’s petition to only open schools when it is safe to do so and is supporting the Five Tests set by the union as a framework for making this decision.
Parentkind is opposed to the reopening of schools without clarity about the validity of the evidence base underpinning this decision. The charity says that only when school leaders, the Government, and parents are in agreement that it is time for schools to reopen, should that happen. Many parents may, for valid reasons, take the view that, despite a decision to re-open schools, they do not regard it as safe for their children to return to school. Parentkind is calling on Government to pledge that parents not returning their children to school due to safety concerns will not have their absences labelled as unauthorised and will face no financial penalty.
The UK Cost of the School Day project wants to hear from parents/carers and children about life since schools closed. Lots of support has been put in place around things like learning at home and help with costs and the project wants to hear what you think is working well and what could be improved. There are two surveys, one for parents and carers, and one for primary and secondary-aged children and young people which can be filled out with help from a grown up if needed. Parents, carers and children can also talk to the project on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger instead (find out how in the survey).
Join campaign group More Than A Score in calling for the Government to halt testing for 4-year-olds. The Baseline test for Reception children is due to be rolled out next academic year, but teachers, experts and parents agree – it’s the last thing children need at the moment. Please use social media to send a virtual postcard to the Government, urging them to scrap the test. You can retweet out tweet below or write your own post.
“Have fun, laugh and make sure your children enjoy themselves: you’ll never get this time again”: Essex head teacher John Bryant gives his top tips to families on the importance of supporting children’s wellbeing during lockdown.
The NEU is encouraging schools to make free ‘Create Boxes’ for families.
The idea is for staff to put together packs of learning resources such as pens, paper, stamps, Sellotape and other items to help pupils express themselves creatively at home and stay in touch with school. Find out more on the NEU website and speak to your head about whether your school community can make and provide Create Boxes.
We’ve produced these lovely window posters for you to make public your support for the doctors, nurses, carers, educators and others doing vital work at this time.
The charity Parentkind wants to know how parents and carers are coping with the lockdown. They are running a survey to capture experiences of parents and carers working at home with children learning from home. Please take the survey which should only take five minutes.
Take a look at our free fun education packs specially developed by teacher Debra Kidd for parents, carers and children currently learning at home. Called Adventures in Learning, they’re designed to support you and your children to enjoy reading together and to explore the world through stories. You can select whichever pack or activities suit you and your children and dip in and out as you choose.
A massive 2,500 teachers, heads, parents, experts and politicians have called on the Government must drop Baseline testing for 4 year olds. The More Than A Score campaign coordinated an open letter to schools minister Nick Gibb saying the test – which is due to be introduced in September – should be scrapped. NEU general secretaries, Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, and shadow education secretary Rebecca Long Bailey were among the signatories. A petition opposing the test now has 80,000 signatures.
The NEU petition about schools reopening has gathered an incredible 175,000 signatures. The union believes schools should not reopen until it is safe to do so – and tens of thousands of teachers, heads, TAs and parents agree. Please sign our petition if you haven’t already and please share with everyone you know.
NEU is offering reassurance to parents, pupils and teachers on learning outside school. In response to the Education Endowment Foundation’s review of remote learning, the union has reiterated that there are many constraints that make distance learning, and distance teaching, difficult and no pressure should be put on teachers and parents to engage with children’s learning in unsustainable ways. Take a look at our resources to support your child’s learning.
Global organisation UNESCO has released information cards giving parents, carers and teachers top tips on living and studying in the time of COVID-19. The 64 cards summarise expert views on learning at home, staying healthy and talking about coronavirus, and are aimed at families with children of all ages.
A poll of teachers by social mobility charity the Sutton Trust has found big gaps between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers when it comes to remote learning. The charity is calling for the Government to do more to close the digital learning divide and support pupils from poorer families.
Avoid strict timetables and steer clear of screen time: Chris, a head teacher from Leeds with his practical tips for parents/carers on how to make learning fun.
“Make sure you stay active, don’t try to do too much and try to enjoy yourselves”: John, a primary head teacher from Camden gives his advice to parents supporting children learning at home.
Turn your front room into a family fort! Join Winston’s Wish (a UK charity supporting bereaved children and their families) this Saturday 18th April to hear about how your family can create the perfect fort in your living room. This is a great way to keep your kids (and big kids at heart) busy and playing creatively in the run up to bedtime.
Sign up to their website to get access to a free ‘Fort Night’ pack. You can also find out how you can make a difference and support grieving children during this difficult time.
The National Education Union is concerned about increasing speculation in the media that schools will soon fully reopen. The union believes any reopening of schools must be based on robust scientific evidence.
We have launched a petition for parents, carers, teachers and school staff to support this call. We believe education staff, parents and carers deserve to be listened to before any decisions are made.
Please sign this petition and ask your friends and family to do so as well.
Responding to speculation about whether schools and colleges will reopen in the near future, the joint general secretaries of the National Education Union – Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney – have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to clarify how the Government will make the decision.
Early years teacher Steph Hancock, from Gateshead, offers reassurance to parents and carers supporting children’s learning at home.
Julia Neal, a secondary teacher of 38 years from Devon, offers her advice to parents about learning outside school.
My thoughts on home schooling.
Let’s turn this situation into an opportunity.
It’s not all about worksheets and complicated online working.
Use interesting topics, such as hobbies or themes from curriculum areas to explore and discuss.
Our pupils have spent far too much time preparing for SATs, with regimented tasks and with little freedom to have fun to talk about their learning.
Making links and articulating what has been learnt verbally are brilliant transferable skills.
Involve family and friends: a win-win situation.
Something for them to do. Rewarding.
A golden opportunity for children to negotiate tasks and take ownership of their learning. Make judgements about what can work.
Here is the topic: How shall we communicate it to Grandad? What is the best method?
Use video, write a play, create a storyboard. Use modern technology, or pen and paper, or just tell a story.
So important to be flexible. Not all children have access to the internet.
I am working with eight-year-old Amara. She has made a bed for her doll using her dad’s workshop. She has Spanish lessons from a family friend. She is researching advice on how to care for a Dachshund and is preparing ideas on notable Victorians and how their inventions/ideas contribute to today’s world.
I know now that she lacks confidence in explaining her understanding verbally, so that is what we work on when we Skype.
I do so hope that this experience will help to change our learning in schools in the long run.
Narrowly-measured learning should become redundant.
I hope that this pandemic is an important catalyst for change.
Jill Borcherds, a secondary maths teacher from Stevenage talks about how parents and carers can inspire their child’s love of maths and problem solving in everyday life.
The NEU is welcoming the Government’s announcement that free school meals will continue over the Easter holidays to support families at a tough time.
Are you a parent of a child with special educational needs or disabilities? Read our advice here.
NEU President Amanda Martin has filmed this message for students and parents/carers about the cancellation of exams.
The NEU has joined 80 leaders and academics writing to Chancellor Rishi Sunak pushing for urgent action to stop COVID-19 pushing families into debt.
The NEU has welcomed the Government’s voucher scheme to provide free school meals. But the union is urging the Government to reconsider its decision not to provide free school meals during the Easter holiday fortnight. This is not a normal holiday and these are not normal times.
Concerned about your child missing out because exams and Government assessments have been cancelled this year? Don’t panic. Find out more about how grades will be awarded on our advice page.
Are you trying to support young children to learn while their school is closed? Watch primary teacher Merike’s top tips:
The NEU is asking all parents and carers to keep their children at home if they possibly can, to prevent the spread of the virus.
You can find all the NEU guidance for schools and teachers about managing the lockdown on the NEU website.
Welcome to the National Education Union’s Coronavirus and Schools latest news page. Here we will post updates for parents and carers about how the crisis is affecting schools. We will post useful information and links for parents and carers to get more support when they need it. And we will also share NEU members’ hints and tips for parents and carers coping with the lockdown and supporting their children to learn outside of school. If you haven’t already, please sign up for updates here.
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