English School Bubble Isolation Rules To End

English School Bubble Isolation Rules To End

15th Jul 2021

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that key Covid restrictions on education and childcare are to be scrapped at the end of the summer term. This means that the current system of sending whole bubbles home after a single positive case will end, as will the need for face masks, social distance measures, and staggered start and finish times.

Officially, the rules will be eased with the lifting of other national restrictions on July 19, but many schools will have finished for the summer before that date. The current Covid testing regime for school pupils will be transferred to the NHS Test, Track and Trace system, although two on-site tests will be required at the start of term in September.

The system of sending whole bubbles home from school has attracted strong criticism from those who say it has been having a detrimental effect on children’s education and development.

Mr Williamson acknowledged this in his speech to the Commons on 6 July, saying: "I do not think it is acceptable that children should face greater restrictions over and above those of wider society, especially since they have given up so much to keep older generations safe during this pandemic."

He added: "Where there are outbreaks schools and colleges may be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and they will also work with local health teams as they currently do now. We're also setting out new rules that mean from the 16 August children will only need to isolate if they have tested positive for Covid-19."

The latest official statistics show that as of 6 July, 641,000 school children were self-isolating because of a positive Covid test in their bubble. However, it is believed that only 28,000 pupils had a confirmed positive Covid diagnosis. Department for Education (DfE) figures show that in the autumn term, 33 million days of school were missed due to isolation rules.

From 16 August, no one under 18 years old will have to isolate if they are contacted by NHS Track and Trace, unless they have a positive Covid test. While many parents and some teachers will welcome the news, there are still some concerns.

The National Education Union accused the government of pursuing a ‘herd immunity’ policy, according to a report in The Guardian. Ministers have rejected his claim. Kevin Courtney, the NEU joint general secretary, said in a statement that while headteachers will welcome not being responsible for testing of pupils, he has concerns about the alternatives.

There are also concerns that as Covid cases continue to rise steeply in the UK, schools will face severe staff shortages as teachers go off sick or have to self-isolate.

The government has pledged £1.4bn to help schoolchildren in England catch up on lost education time during the pandemic. This figure has been criticised as well below what is really necessary, which is thought to be nearer £15bn. Exams including A Levels, AS Levels, and GCSEs have been cancelled this year, and replaced with teachers’ estimated grades.


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Warrington Modular Home Plan Approval Recommended

Warrington Modular Home Plan Approval Recommended

9th Jul 2021

A development of 228 prefabricated homes at Grappenhall Heys in Warrington has been tipped to be recommended for approval, despite objections from parish councillors.

The Warrington Guardian reports that developer Urban Splash submitted a detailed planning application earlier in 2021 to bring its trademarked off-store manufactured modular units - House by Urban Splash - to the town for the first time, as the final phase of Homes England’s 1,000 home Grappenhall Heys residential housing scheme.

The 228 units already have outline planning consent and Warrington Council is recommended to grant detailed consent to the scheme at a planning committee meeting next Wednesday.

The development will be a mix of two, three, four, five and six-bed homes, and 68 of there 228 will be ‘affordable’.

However, Appleton Parish Council claims the design is ‘not in keeping with the area’, and Grappenhall and Thelwall formally objected, claiming that the development will be 'an additional enclave of development disconnected from local services’. There were also concerns raised about the design, calling it the ‘wrong product in the wrong place’.

Planning officers have said that the development should be approved, stating: “It is recognised that the appearance of the properties is different from the existing (and under construction) development in the surrounding area but it is considered that this reflects a new phase of development that by virtue of the landscape led approach and high-quality architecture will be a positive addition to the identity of the area.”

The development would be built using modern methods of construction, with modular units lifted into position by crane, and House by Urban Splash intends to introduce new typologies to meet the needs of the local market, as well as using existing models from its core range of House designs.

There would also be a central copse, that is proposed to run through the neighbourhood, providing 30,000 sq ft of green space and play areas.

The project team comprises masterplanner Feilden Clegg Bradley, architect Shedkm, landscape architect Planit-IE, multidisciplinary firm Ramboll, transport advisor SK Transport and Avison Young as a planning consultant.

The same planning meeting also discussed a scheme that would involve the demolition of a pub in Grappenhall, replacing it with a three-storey, 70-bed care home facility, car parking, and landscaping.

The proposal details that care home developer New Care, which is part of the Altrincham-based McGoff Group, would construct three blocks connected by glazed-fronted and flat-roofed linked elements.

While access to the site would remain the same, the existing car park would be reduced in size to accommodate 30 vehicles, including three mobility spaces and an ambulance drop-off zone.

The plans have been amended since they were first lodged, with changes including reconfiguration of the proposed balcony area, additional provision of internal ventilation systems and minor changes to the external appearance of the building.

Garner Town Planning is New Cares planning consultant and CSquared Architects designed the scheme. It is recommended for full consent at the next meeting.


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Children’s Laureate Opens New Cambridgeshire School Library

Children’s Laureate Opens New Cambridgeshire School Library

2nd Jul 2021

A school in Fenland, Cambridgeshire is now the proud owner of a bespoke library that will house more than 1,000 brand new books thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE.

Peterborough Today reports that Cowell, author of How To Train Your Dragon, formally opened the library at Benwick Primary School on Thursday 24 June. The author teamed up with the school as part of a project to transform school libraries.

Headteacher Clare Talbot said the children have been blown away by the library that has come complete with new furniture and a dedicated piece of artwork created by Cowell to mark the project, which has seen six very different primary schools chosen to benefit.

The initiative aims to showcase the transformative impact that a well-funded primary school library can have on the opportunities for children alongside the vast inequality that children across England currently face.

The ‘Life-changing Libraries’ initiative aims to develop a culture of reading for pleasure and has the support of the Books Trust.

The headteacher said the school had been overwhelmed at being chosen to receive the bespoke library and hopes the gift of the new books will inspire children to enjoy reading.

She said: “We have every kind of book imaginable, we have board books for preschool all the way up to a huge collection of poetry as well as all the major titles - there is every book a child could possibly want.

“The project aims to promote reading for enjoyment. The challenge is to get every child reading and start their journey into reading which is the gateway into so many other things in life.”

Cowell has also called on the Prime Minister to help reverse the spiralling inequality in education by putting primary school libraries at the heart of the long-term response to the pandemic with a ring-fenced, yearly investment of £100 million.


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Sangwin Educational Furniture Receive Two Awards

Sangwin Educational Furniture Receive Two Awards

29th Jun 2021

Sangwin Educational Furniture has received recognition from   Read more

Report Claims Poor White Pupils Failed By Education System

Report Claims Poor White Pupils Failed By Education System

28th Jun 2021

A new parliamentary report has said the system has failed white pupils from poor backgrounds, highlighting the stark levels of underachievement in this demographic.

The Education Committee report found that white British pupils eligible for free school meals consistently fell short in educational attainment levels compared with their peers in other ethnic groups.

It added that this trend will need specific targeting by policymakers to reverse the poor performance of “this long-forgotten disadvantaged group”.

Among the findings were that, in 2019, only 18 per cent of white pupils on free school meals achieved Grade 5 in English and Maths, compared with 23 per cent of children of all groups combined who were on free meals.

The university figures were worse, with just 16 per cent of white children on free meals getting into higher education, half the number of black Caribbean pupils.

Committee chair Robert Halfon MP said: “For decades now white working-class pupils have been let down and neglected by an education system that condemns them to falling behind their peers every step of the way.”

He added that the problem has not been addressed yet due to “muddled thinking from all governments and a lack of attention and care to help these disadvantaged white pupils in towns across our country”.

Arguing that the report shows these issues can “no longer be swept under the carpet”, he said the findings show nobody can “lazily” say that poverty is the only factor at play, “given that we know free school meal eligible pupils from other ethnic groups consistently out-perform their white British peers”.

However, the report saw a major split down party lines over the use of the term ‘white privilege’. Commonly deployed by proponents of critical race theory, it make assumptions that white people have inherent advantages over people of minority ethnic groups, a view the report said was divisive and also an impediment to action to tackle the real disadvantages working class white pupils face.

While Mr Halfon and other Conservatives on the committee backed this view and called for government funding to be withheld from organisations using the term ‘white privilege’, Labour members claimed this was a “culture war” move aimed at shoring up Conservative support among white working class voters in former ‘red wall’ seats that have switched allegiance.

Instead, Labour members argued, the real problems were caused by “lack of investment” in schools and communities by Conservative governments.

However, the report also focused on other underlying causes of poor white pupil underachievement. These included generational issues of parents with poor achievement and levels of educational understanding themselves, a lack of jobs and a shortage of community assets such as public facilities and transport.

Aside from questions about how racial disparities are discussed, the report suggested family hubs to get parents more involved in teaching their children, using the pupil premium to direct more support, and increased vocational education.

The concept of ‘white privilege’ was first devised by American academic Peggy McIntosh in 1988, who argued there were numerous advantages she enjoyed as a direct result of her skin colour.

Her ideas have been backed by many racial justice campaigners, but critics have argued the concept is flawed, regarding the notion as oversimplified and inaccurate.

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