Mass coronavirus testing for secondary school pupils

Mass coronavirus testing is to be rolled out immediately for all secondary school pupils in parts of London, Kent and Essex in a bid to bring down the soaring number of infections in those areas, Matt Hancock has announced. The Health Secretary said “by far” the fastest rise in coronavirus infection rates in those areas was in 11 to 18-year-olds. Therefore, this age group should be tested regardless of symptoms, he said. Speaking at a Downing Street briefing yesterday evening,…

Marcus Rashford forces second government U-turn

Disadvantaged children will be given free school meals over the Christmas holidays, in a major government U-turn that has delighted Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford. The football star has been campaigning for the government to extend its free school meals support, an initiative which has been met with overwhelming support from charities, individuals and local authorities across the United Kingdom. Following his team’s premier league clash against Everton on Saturday, Rashford received a personal phone call from Prime…

A-levels and GCSEs to be delayed in 2021

The majority of A-level and GCSE exams in England will be delayed by three weeks next year due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed. The 2021 exams will go ahead, but the majority of tests will be pushed back to give pupils more time to catch up on their learning following school closures. In a written statement on Monday, Mr Williamson said: “I can confirm that GCSE, AS and A level exams in 2021 will…

Grammar school advocate appointed as DfE Director

Nick Timothy, who served as chief of staff to Theresa May, has been appointed as a non-executive director of the Department for Education (DfE). During his time advising the former prime minister, Timothy was widely regarded as the driving force behind the controversial plan to bring back grammar schools, before resigning in 2017 after the Conservative Party lost their majority at the general election that year. Timothy was also a fierce critic of the higher education sector. In reaction to…

School closures have little impact on coronavirus spread

Closing schools is likely to have a small impact on slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and imposes a heavy economic burden that could outweigh the benefits, a new study has claimed. Led by the University College London (UCL), the study found that school closures alone were predicted to reduce deaths by 2% to 4% amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, which is less than other social distancing measures. The researchers examined 16 studies of recent outbreaks of other…

Schools to remain open during Easter break

The Government has asked schools across the United Kingdom to remain open for the children of key workers over the Easter holiday period. A fortnight ago, schools were closed to millions of pupils as part of Downing Street’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, yet the children of key workers have been able to attend as normal so their parents can continue to work. Key workers include those working in health and social care, such as doctors and nurses, and…

Schools donate protective equipment to NHS workers

Schools throughout the UK have been donating science googles and other apparatus to NHS workers battling on the frontline against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since measures to tackle the spread of the virus were accelerated last week, NHS England and the Government have made a major effort to address concerns about protective gear. As well as gathering millions of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the British army, schools have been doing their bit by donating goggles, glasses and…

Funding cuts forcing schools to narrow curriculum, Ofsted

Schools are “responding to funding pressure by reducing curriculum breadth”, the chief inspector of Ofsted has warned. In a blog post published last week, Amanda Spielman said it was “particularly concerning” to see schools reducing access to subjects such as languages, computing, design and technology and music. However, she did acknowledge that financial pressures, resulting from a mixture of cuts, rising costs and “instability and uncertainty” around both expenditure and income, mean schools are having “to make tough decisions and…

Teachers set for biggest pay rise since 2005 – DfE

The government has pledged to give teachers the largest sustained pay rise since 2005, with starting salaries increasing to at least £26,000. Under the government’s proposals, wages for new teachers in England, working outside London will rise by 6.7% this September, to £26,000 from the current minimum of £24,373. Salaries for those in outer London would rise to £30,000, and £32,000 for those in inner London. Experienced teachers, heads and school leaders would see an above inflation pay increase of…

Government announces £14 billion school funding boost

The new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has pledged to invest £14.4 billion into primary and secondary education between now and 2022-23. The huge three-year funding increase will guarantee that schools teaching pupils between the ages of five and 16 in England will receive an above-inflation pay rise for every teacher. The money covers real-terms rises in school budgets due to factors such as inflation, increases in the pupil population as well as additional extra funding. In addition to the funding…