R64 – Ministerial Report from the Department for Education; School Opening

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Andrew97
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R64 – Ministerial Report from the Department for Education; School Opening

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Following M608 and the debate within the house, the Government will be taking the steps outlined below to best support the country's schools, its teachers and (most importantly) its learners.

The Government notes that schools have remained open to some pupils throughout the last 6 months, and that teachers across the country have been consistently working as well, despite family bereavements, children of their own to support and other personal issues.

However, this Government recognises the need for schools to gradually return to normal, just like the rest of the UK. Although the education system holds complexities which requires some variability in policy. Therefore the following steps shall be taken:

Primary Schools
Schools which educate pupils under the age of 11 shall be re-opened further, to allow more students to attend.
- Primary Schools with fewer than 50 pupils will be able to re-open fully if staffing allows.
- Primary Schools with greater than 50 pupils will be able to re-open, allowing 50% of their pupils to come to school each day.
- Schools will be required to thoroughly clean the premises between the end of one school day and the beginning of the next.
- Pupils in primary schools should be taught basic hygiene procedures upon their return.
- All pupils should be able to attend school for at least 2 days between Monday and Friday.
- Schools are advised to teach in outdoor spaces when able to, to stagger break and lunch periods among pupils and are strongly encouraged not to hold whole-school assemblies.
- The Secretary of State will be approving some schools to re-open fully, or open at 75% capacity, if the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the local area is significantly below the national average. This will be done following consultation with local authorities and multi-academy trust leadership.
- Headteachers will have the authority to close or restrict attendance to schools due to the ill-health of teachers, in addition to all existing circumstances within which they have the power to make this decision.
- Parents will not be prosecuted for refusing to send their child to school for the duration of the academic year, provided that grounds for doing so are provided to the school.
- Planned summer holiday dates will be going ahead as per local authority instructions. Local authorities continue to have control over the summer holiday dates for primary schools within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Secondary Schools:
Schools which educate pupils over the age of 11 are recognised for their greater ability to educate pupils online, alongside the ability for these pupils to be left at home unsupervised.
- The usual 6 week summer holiday period will be brought forward, beginning on the first Monday after the passing of this MR.
- After a 4-5 week period, the Secretary of State will release a further MR detailing the process of the return of secondary schools.
(x)(x)(x)](i) The government hopes this will be in the form of a full return to school by all students.
(x)(x)(x)](ii) If the Department of Health has reported that the public health situation regarding Covid-19 is relatively unchanged compared to now, the return of secondary schools will be in a phased manner similar to that outlined above for Primary Schools.

Other Types of Schools:
- The Government notes that not all schools follow the same primary / secondary pattern outlined above.
- Schools which offer places to students both above and below the ages of 11 are required to follow the procedures outlined in the section above entitled "Primary Schools", applicable to all pupils enrolled born after 1st September 2009.
- Schools which offer places to students both above and below the ages of 11 are invited to close to some students born before 1st September 2009, and should consult with the local authority on their policies regarding Covid-19 and schooling.
- Schools which offer places to students both above and below the ages of 11 and choose to retain the existing summer holiday period applicable to children born after 1st September 2009 should adhere to the following principles:
(x)(x)(x)](i) No student should be consistently without schooling between now and the 14th September 2020, unless in circumstances of ill health throughout this period.
(x)(x)(x)](ii) Students and staff should be entitled to a 6 week break from study and work, which reflects the will of this house voted for in P103. This 6 week break need not be simultaneous for all students and staff in a school.
- The Secretary of State will be writing to all Special Schools advising them to assess the needs of pupils, the school's capacity for flexibility and the number of Covid-19 cases in the local area. Headteachers should submit plans to re-open schools partially or fully to the local authority for approval.
- The Secretary of State will instruct local authorities to approve plans that they see as realistic and appropriate, and conform to the following principles:
(x)(x)(x)](i) No student should be consistently without schooling between now and the 14th September 2020, unless in circumstances of ill health throughout this period.
(x)(x)(x)](ii) Students and staff should be entitled to a 6 week break from study and work, which reflects the will of this house voted for in P103. This 6 week break need not be simultaneous for all students and staff in a school.

Miscellaneous:
- The contents of this Ministerial Report should be understood to apply to all state-maintained schools in England; not to schools outside of that region, or independently funded.
- The points referring to Special Schools should be understood to apply to schools which are designed for an intake of students with learning difficulties, physical or mentality disabilities or other behavioural problems
- Further guidance for the re-opening of other education establishments, such as UK Universities, will be released before the start of the next academic year.
- Lastly, the Government will be asking examination boards to provide additional materials for learners to help best prepare for undertaking external qualifications during the 2020/21 academic year. This should include specific resources for completion of examination assessments and achieving assessment criteria therein.


I commend this statement to the house.


Notes
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These measures are similar but not congruent to those undertaken by the RL government here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/public...om-1-june-2020

Most notably, the RL government's policy of opening schools to certain year groups does not reflect the variation in Covid-19 cases nationally (see table 4 in the data set), or varying contexts each school finds itself in at this time. This approach allows schools to have more flexibility, gives local authorities more control over their own children and schools (which they ordinarily would have) and offers solutions to a number of issues raised by schools and teachers regarding public health and safety.

The Government notes the low risk to most children that Covid-19 poses, the government also notes the ability for children to carry the virus from a home into school, pass it on and for the virus to spread into other homes. It is for this reason that the government are pursuing this dynamic approach.

The steps taken here regarding schools opening to some students have been taken on the basis that schools with larger intakes will have larger buildings, and thus greater capacity to separate pupils into different rooms to adhere to social distancing. Therefore, allocations of student intake has been based using a percentage rather than raw numbers.

However, it should also be noted that this government recognises the unfeasible request for children as young as four to adhere to rules about 1 or 2 metres apart from other children. If schools are able to continue this approach while adhering to the new guidelines in this MR then they are welcome to do so. This Government will not be expecting teachers or schools to enforce rules about a specific social distance between individual pupils or staff. Rather, the effort to minimise the size of groups and improve the rigour of hygiene standards is regarded as far more achievable methods of preventing the spread of covid-19 in our schools.

Lastly, it is reasoned here that in rural areas with smaller schools and with fewer cases of the virus, the risk of transmission is reduced, and with a limited number of pupils enrolled at some schools anyway, employing percentages here would be ineffective in achieving our aims.

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04MR17
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Seconds away, round 2. **ding ding**
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Moonbow
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Sounds fair. 👍
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Theloniouss
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A good plan
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Miss Maddie
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Primary Schools
Schools which educate pupils under the age of 11 shall be re-opened further, to allow more students to attend.
- Primary Schools with fewer than 50 pupils will be able to re-open fully if staffing allows.

Aye!

- Primary Schools with greater than 50 pupils will be able to re-open, allowing 50% of their pupils to come to school each day.

Nay! Children are at minimal risk (they have more chance of being struck by lightning) and are not known to be super spreaders. This is part-time education and children will receive half the amount of education they should be receiving.

- Schools will be required to thoroughly clean the premises between the end of one school day and the beginning of the next.

Costly and difficult to do. Will the schools be given more funding to pay for this?

- Pupils in primary schools should be taught basic hygiene procedures upon their return.

Aye!

- All pupils should be able to attend school for at least 2 days between Monday and Friday.

See point 2. Children should not be given half (and two days is less than half) education. They deserve more.

- Schools are advised to teach in outdoor spaces when able to, to stagger break and lunch periods among pupils and are strongly encouraged not to hold whole-school assemblies.

What is the effectiveness of staggering breaks and lunch? Children often have siblings in a school. If the virus is as easily spread as the government implies, the siblings act as a link between two year groups and spread it around to each group. Distancing year groups has not been fully thought through and will prove to be a pointless measure.

- The Secretary of State will be approving some schools to re-open fully, or open at 75% capacity, if the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the local area is significantly below the national average. This will be done following consultation with local authorities and multi-academy trust leadership.

Pointless bureaucracy and why 75%? All the same problems with siblings potentially attending on different days and spreading COVID-19 still applies.

- Headteachers will have the authority to close or restrict attendance to schools due to the ill-health of teachers, in addition to all existing circumstances within which they have the power to make this decision.

Not until there are safeguards in place to prevent rogue headteachers closing schools if they want a never ending lockdown.

- Parents will not be prosecuted for refusing to send their child to school for the duration of the academic year, provided that grounds for doing so are provided to the school.

Nay! We should not be giving into coronaphobic parents unless either the child or someone the child lives with is considered most vulnerable.

- Planned summer holiday dates will be going ahead as per local authority instructions. Local authorities continue to have control over the summer holiday dates for primary schools within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Summer holidays start in a 3-4 weeks. Returning to children to school for two weeks at most (they're only in 50% of the time) is pointless.

Secondary Schools:
Schools which educate pupils over the age of 11 are recognised for their greater ability to educate pupils online, alongside the ability for these pupils to be left at home unsupervised.
- The usual 6 week summer holiday period will be brought forward, beginning on the first Monday after the passing of this MR.

De facto already the case. It would be a waste of their time having them at school for 2 weeks. This measure should apply to primary schools.

- After a 4-5 week period, the Secretary of State will release a further MR detailing the process of the return of secondary schools.
(x)(x)(x)](i) The government hopes this will be in the form of a full return to school by all students.
(x)(x)(x)](ii) If the Department of Health has reported that the public health situation regarding Covid-19 is relatively unchanged compared to now, the return of secondary schools will be in a phased manner similar to that outlined above for Primary Schools.

The real life situation is going to be full school re-openings in September. A phased reopening in the MHOC would be the wrong decision.

Other Types of Schools:
- The Government notes that not all schools follow the same primary / secondary pattern outlined above.
- Schools which offer places to students both above and below the ages of 11 are required to follow the procedures outlined in the section above entitled "Primary Schools", applicable to all pupils enrolled born after 1st September 2009.
- Schools which offer places to students both above and below the ages of 11 are invited to close to some students born before 1st September 2009, and should consult with the local authority on their policies regarding Covid-19 and schooling.
- Schools which offer places to students both above and below the ages of 11 and choose to retain the existing summer holiday period applicable to children born after 1st September 2009 should adhere to the following principles:
(x)(x)(x)](i) No student should be consistently without schooling between now and the 14th September 2020, unless in circumstances of ill health throughout this period.
(x)(x)(x)](ii) Students and staff should be entitled to a 6 week break from study and work, which reflects the will of this house voted for in P103. This 6 week break need not be simultaneous for all students and staff in a school.

What primary legislation gives the minister this power? I thought Gove introduced reforms to allow schools to set their own term dates and if they wished, could ignore this.

- Further guidance for the re-opening of other education establishments, such as UK Universities, will be released before the start of the next academic year.

Universities need to plan ahead. The announcement should be sooner rather than later.

- Lastly, the Government will be asking examination boards to provide additional materials for learners to help best prepare for undertaking external qualifications during the 2020/21 academic year. This should include specific resources for completion of examination assessments and achieving assessment criteria therein.

Aye!

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An unimaginative report that does not change much from real life. It introduces a bizarre concept of part-time schooling and wants every child to have a six week holiday (when they have already had a very long one). The report contains nothing about wanting to help pupils catch up on the work they have missed. Returning to school for two weeks at most cannot replace the months of missed school.
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TheDefiniteArticle
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This generally seems fairly sensible but I'd echo my comments in the other thread on the heightened value of canon on topics relating to coronavirus.
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04MR17
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(Original post by Miss Maddie)
Nay! Children are at minimal risk (they have more chance of being struck by lightning) and are not known to be super spreaders. This is part-time education and children will receive half the amount of education they should be receiving.
But according to your own motion on the house floor children can be super-spreaders of viruses, or is that information only important when it works for points you agree with?

Also, children will receive half the amount of schooling they otherwise would have, not half the amount of education.

(Original post by Miss Maddie)
What is the effectiveness of staggering breaks and lunch? Children often have siblings in a school. If the virus is as easily spread as the government implies, the siblings act as a link between two year groups and spread it around to each group. Distancing year groups has not been fully thought through and will prove to be a pointless measure.
Basic statistics. It is never a certainty that a virus will spread from child A to child B, only ever a possibility. If the number of children that child A is in contact with gets reduced, then the possibility that child A will pass on the virus is reduced, and the amount of damage that child A can do is reduced. If you put 400 children on a playground then there's a far likelier chance of the virus being spread to multiple children than if you have 15 of them out there. This isn't about stopping covid in its tracks because that simply isn't feasible. This is about limiting the pace that covid spreads.

(Original post by Miss Maddie)
Not until there are safeguards in place to prevent rogue headteachers closing schools if they want a never ending lockdown.
If we were to re-open schools fully headteachers would still have these powers, headteachers are accountable to the governors for these decisions, as well as to local authorities and/or academy trusts. Your problem is with something that has existed within schools for years and not with this MR.

(Original post by Miss Maddie)
Summer holidays start in a 3-4 weeks. Returning to children to school for two weeks at most (they're only in 50% of the time) is pointless.
You seem to be assuming that local authorities will not be making changes then. Okay. I though the Libertarians like less state regulation, now you want the national government to keep more control?

(Original post by Miss Maddie)
What primary legislation gives the minister this power? I thought Gove introduced reforms to allow schools to set their own term dates and if they wished, could ignore this.
Hence "should" and not "must" is used.

(Original post by Miss Maddie)
Universities need to plan ahead. The announcement should be sooner rather than later.
Universities are already planning ahead, your comment is noted.
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Jammy Duel
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The easiest thing to do would be to list where this deviated from RL given a lot of it seems to be restatement of RL

It should also be noted that the "bringing forwards the summer holidays" doesn't really do anything given it is only bringing it forwards by 2 days unless this is rushed through the house.

Indeed this problem of timing throws up a massive problem: if these are to apply immediately to this academic year only they are being applied for a few days and this should be rejected as essentially a MR for the sake of it, if they are being applied from September this seems to be a step back from what is happening IRL and should be rejected on the grounds that it is dragging on the harm to education even longer.

Why only apply it to England, do Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish students not matter?
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(Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
This generally seems fairly sensible but I'd echo my comments in the other thread on the heightened value of canon on topics relating to coronavirus.
If this is only applying to the current academic year it is pretty ****ing stupid because it will only apply for a few days, if it applies to the next academic year it is also stupid because it means extending the current woefully inadequate circumstances for another year, this line in particular is rather absurd:

- Parents will not be prosecuted for refusing to send their child to school for the duration of the academic year, provided that grounds for doing so are provided to the school.

It means that parents can deny their children a year of education as long as they give some random excuse to the school
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Miss Maddie
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But according to your own motion on the house floor children can be super-spreaders of viruses, or is that information only important when it works for points you agree with?

Children are not super-spreaders of COVID-19, they are super-spreaders of flu. The viruses are completely different things. They can be super-spreaders of one and not the other. This is a fact!

https://adc.bmj.com/content/105/7/618
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23029877/

Also, children will receive half the amount of schooling they otherwise would have, not half the amount of education.

Unless they are poor and then the majority of them don't receive anything at home so they are recovering only 50% of their education.

Basic statistics. It is never a certainty that a virus will spread from child A to child B, only ever a possibility. If the number of children that child A is in contact with gets reduced, then the possibility that child A will pass on the virus is reduced, and the amount of damage that child A can do is reduced. If you put 400 children on a playground then there's a far likelier chance of the virus being spread to multiple children than if you have 15 of them out there. This isn't about stopping covid in its tracks because that simply isn't feasible. This is about limiting the pace that covid spreads.

Why do you want to limit the pace? The NHS is at overcapacity and if you accept COVID-19 is not going away, that increases the risk of more cases happening during flu season. Children are fit and healthy and should get their infection over and done with before autumn.

You seem to be assuming that local authorities will not be making changes then. Okay. I though the Libertarians like less state regulation, now you want the national government to keep more control?

Unless local authorities/head teachers choose to have early holidays it becomes pointless. Token schooling should not be treated a proper pathway to a good education.
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
If this is only applying to the current academic year it is pretty ****ing stupid because it will only apply for a few days, if it applies to the next academic year it is also stupid because it means extending the current woefully inadequate circumstances for another year, this line in particular is rather absurd:

- Parents will not be prosecuted for refusing to send their child to school for the duration of the academic year, provided that grounds for doing so are provided to the school.

It means that parents can deny their children a year of education as long as they give some random excuse to the school
Bloody hell, I skimmed past that.

Can we add the phrase 'which the local education authority considers to justify this as being in the best interests of the child' after the word 'grounds' here please?
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Miss Maddie
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But according to your own motion on the house floor children can be super-spreaders of viruses, or is that information only important when it works for points you agree with?

Children are not super-spreaders of COVID-19, they are super-spreaders of flu. The viruses are completely different things. They can be super-spreaders of one and not the other. This is a fact!

https://adc.bmj.com/content/105/7/618
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23029877/

Also, children will receive half the amount of schooling they otherwise would have, not half the amount of education.

Unless they are poor and then the majority of them don't receive anything at home so they are recovering only 50% of their education.

Basic statistics. It is never a certainty that a virus will spread from child A to child B, only ever a possibility. If the number of children that child A is in contact with gets reduced, then the possibility that child A will pass on the virus is reduced, and the amount of damage that child A can do is reduced. If you put 400 children on a playground then there's a far likelier chance of the virus being spread to multiple children than if you have 15 of them out there. This isn't about stopping covid in its tracks because that simply isn't feasible. This is about limiting the pace that covid spreads.

Why do you want to limit the pace? The NHS is at overcapacity and if you accept COVID-19 is not going away, that increases the risk of more cases happening during flu season. Children are fit and healthy and should get their infection over and done with before autumn.

You seem to be assuming that local authorities will not be making changes then. Okay. I though the Libertarians like less state regulation, now you want the national government to keep more control?

Unless local authorities/head teachers choose to have early holidays it becomes pointless. Token schooling should not be treated a proper pathway to a good education.

04MR17
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
If this is only applying to the current academic year it is pretty ****ing stupid because it will only apply for a few days, if it applies to the next academic year it is also stupid because it means extending the current woefully inadequate circumstances for another year, this line in particular is rather absurd:

- Parents will not be prosecuted for refusing to send their child to school for the duration of the academic year, provided that grounds for doing so are provided to the school.

It means that parents can deny their children a year of education as long as they give some random excuse to the school
To confirm, this is applying until a point at which further updates are provided by the Department for Education. I hope this occurs before September. I'd also remind the house that I'd have liked for this MR to be released much earlier than today.

Parents cannot deny their children a year of education, education takes place all the time without the need of schools to exist.
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(Original post by 04MR17)
To confirm, this is applying until a point at which further updates are provided by the Department for Education. I hope this occurs before September. I'd also remind the house that I'd have liked for this MR to be released much earlier than today.

Parents cannot deny their children a year of education, education takes place all the time without the need of schools to exist.
If you are hoping to change something before September what is the point of publishing this now other than to look like something is being done given it won't be in force very long before the holidays.

I am incorrect in saying it would only move summer forwards 2 days without rushing, I was thinking division was 5 days rather than 4 so this could pass Sunday 12th, although one should question whether it is appropriate to be giving notice of just a few hours for school closures.

And quit with this "education takes place without school" *******s, it is a really poor cop out justification for allowing parents to arbitrarily take their kids out of school for a year, we send them to school rather than letting them learn by pissing about for a reason.
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Children are not super-spreaders of COVID-19, they are super-spreaders of flu. The viruses are completely different things. They can be super-spreaders of one and not the other. This is a fact!

You avoided the question well. I asked if they are super-spreaders of viruses, without specifying one?

Unless they are poor and then the majority of them don't receive anything at home so they are recovering only 50% of their education.

Nope, because you're again assuming that education is something that is only received.

Why do you want to limit the pace? The NHS is at overcapacity and if you accept COVID-19 is not going away, that increases the risk of more cases happening during flu season. Children are fit and healthy and should get their infection over and done with before autumn.

I will spare the member from receiving an in-depth review of the merits of avoiding the quick death of thousands of people, if not more. Again, you're either assuming that children becoming infected isn't going to be harmful to anyone because it would be impossible for children to then spread the virus to family members; or, you're just plainly advocating for herd immunity, which is not something that an education-focused MR is going to be able to stage a full debate on.

Miss Maddie
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
Bloody hell, I skimmed past that.

Can we add the phrase 'which the local education authority considers to justify this as being in the best interests of the child' after the word 'grounds' here please?
Even beyond that we have this being a step backwards, instead of opening the schools in september we have most primary schools running at half capacity and a goods chance very little will change for secondary schools because the SoS seems to be under the belief that the last 3 months have not shown online learning to be absolutely dreadful given half of students have been studying for less than half the time they ordinarily would. The SoS has stated they do not see this as acceptable in the long term in MQs but their actions are telling a different story.
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
If you are hoping to change something before September what is the point of publishing this now other than to look like something is being done given it won't be in force very long before the holidays.

I am incorrect in saying it would only move summer forwards 2 days without rushing, I was thinking division was 5 days rather than 4 so this could pass Sunday 12th, although one should question whether it is appropriate to be giving notice of just a few hours for school closures.

And quit with this "education takes place without school" *******s, it is a really poor cop out justification for allowing parents to arbitrarily take their kids out of school for a year, we send them to school rather than letting them learn by pissing about for a reason.
Again, I would rather that this was published earlier than now. The original draft of this MR was as a response to M608, and would've been the government's response to the passing of that motion.

You raise a valid point about the notice that schools have and I think it would be reasonable not to expect schools to comply with this MR in full on Monday 13th, but by Tuesday 14th instead.

It isn't a poor cop out at all, I have corrected you and others many times on the important different between education (which is something that children experience every day of the year) and schooling (which is not).
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Even beyond that we have this being a step backwards, instead of opening the schools in september we have most primary schools running at half capacity and a goods chance very little will change for secondary schools because the SoS seems to be under the belief that the last 3 months have not shown online learning to be absolutely dreadful given half of students have been studying for less than half the time they ordinarily would. The SoS has stated they do not see this as acceptable in the long term in MQs but their actions are telling a different story.
You've convinced me to oppose this, though I would welcome members of the government speaking in favour of this report.
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(Original post by TheDefiniteArticle)
Bloody hell, I skimmed past that.

Can we add the phrase 'which the local education authority considers to justify this as being in the best interests of the child' after the word 'grounds' here please?
Yes, certainly.
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Even beyond that we have this being a step backwards, instead of opening the schools in september we have most primary schools running at half capacity and a goods chance very little will change for secondary schools because the SoS seems to be under the belief that the last 3 months have not shown online learning to be absolutely dreadful given half of students have been studying for less than half the time they ordinarily would. The SoS has stated they do not see this as acceptable in the long term in MQs but their actions are telling a different story.
I can definitely agree students have been having barely any input as they would have at school. There’s is certainly no online lessons or input for my year group (11) or year 9 as far as I’m aware. I understand my year group not being a priority but no work at all is ridiculous! It’s horrendous what some schools are getting away with.
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