TUC is today (Friday) publishing a joint statement that was sent
yesterday evening to the Secretary of State for Education, on behalf of
unions with members in the education sector, outlining the measures
needed for the safe reopening of schools.
The statement from GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite sets out key principles and tests for the reopening of schools in England to ensure the safety of children, parents, staff and the communities they serve.
In 2008, the DfE produced detailed guidance on how to continue learning if schools closed due to a pandemic. But when Covid-19 hit, the government stood accused of being unprepared to ensure youngsters can learn at home. So, what happened?
When it comes to discussing the logistical challenges
– and failures – of the UK government, it seems there is only one story
worth covering right now. But I wonder if the struggles of a policy
from the field I write about, education, might be reflective of some
weak spots in the battle against coronavirus.
The education initiative to which I’m referring is
free schools. In a more rational world, and one which were not currently
so focused, rightly of course, on beating the virus, more attention
would be directed towards the detailed record of this reform.
As the years pass since 2010, when the fresh Conservative-led government launched its drive to allow new schools to be set up by community groups and academy chains, the fiascos continue steadily to pile up.
The Department for Education spent almost £50,000 attempting to keep
secret its failure to properly vet a businessman it allowed to run an
academy trust that later collapsed.
Johnson Kane co-founded the Education Fellowship Trust in 2012, and became chief executive for its 12 schools and 6,500 children until its closed six years later.
The government was forced to release details earlier this year that
proved it did not vet Kane after a freelance journalist took it to
It also emerged during the legal hearings that the businessman, who earned £160,000 heading the trust, lied about having held a senior position at John Lewis and a board position at the British Airports Authority (BAA), and to have run a venture capital bank.
Some terrible ideas are brand new, such as injecting disinfectant.
But some bad policy plans are like zombies – however many times they are
killed by the evidence, they just keep coming back.
And grammar schools are the zombie king. The grammars debate is
usually about who gets in and the impact on social mobility. The
evidence falls heavily on the “grammar schools are a disaster for social
mobility” side of the argument. Only 2.5% of grammar school pupils are on free school meals v 13.2% in all state schools. And still the idea comes back.
But if demonstrating that grammars take the privileged, not the bright, hasn’t killed the idea, maybe a new approach is called for. That’s what recent research did by examining grammar schools’ impact on wage inequality.