Schools

This Authoritarian Government’s Education Bill Will Allow Local Authorities to Force Home Educated Children to Attend Their Own Failing Schools

There follows a guest post by Jessica Turpin, a home educator who is concerned about the Government overreach of the new Education Bill, which grants local authorities sweeping new powers to regulate home education and force home educated children to attend their own failing schools.

Who is responsible for your child’s education? It may well surprise you to learn that if you are a parent in the U.K. today then it is legally your responsibility to ensure that your child receives an “efficient full-time education… either by regular attendance at school or otherwise” (Education Act 1996 Section 7). This law makes complete sense since nobody loves a child, knows a child or is more committed to his or her wellbeing than the parent. Moreover, as a committed Christian, I believe that the Bible clearly delegates the responsibility of educating and training children to their parents, as well as admonishing us not to exasperate them! There is no space for the Government to usurp us on this point.  

Most parents entrust the educational aspect of parenting to the Government. They are perfectly entitled to do so. A few of us do not.

My husband and I have seven children, aged four to 11, including two sets of twins. We have never made use of Government nurseries nor of Government schools. We have elected to give them a Classical Christian education at home and have never looked back. If you lived on our street, you would likely want your children to be friends with my children. Indeed, they are well-known and well-liked. My children will not teach your child to swear, they will not sell your child drugs, nor will they show your child how to find pornography on the internet. They will not beat up your child. I am not trying to be funny; my husband and I know the faces of the local schoolchildren who would not think twice about deliberately injuring one of our offspring.

Teenager is Forced Out of Her Private School by Mob Who Attacked Her for Questioning Trans Ideology as School Refused to Back Her

A sixth form pupil who was forced out of her private school after challenging the ‘trans ideology’ of a visiting speaker has spoken publicly about her ordeal for the first time, thanking J.K. Rowling for her support after other pupils “made me think I was mad”. MailOnline has more.

The 18-year-old teenager was treated “like a heretic” for questioning a female member of the House of Lords’ arguments during a PSHE talk about transphobia in Parliament, one of her teachers said.

The pair parted amicably, but when she returned to the sixth form she was surrounded by up to 60 girls who screamed, swore and spat at her, leading to her being unable to breathe properly and collapsing, it was claimed. 

On Tuesday, J.K. Rowling waded into the row, tweeting: “Utterly shameful. Add this to the tottering pile of evidence that people in education and academia who’re supposed to have a duty of care towards the young have succumbed to an outbreak of quasi-religious fanaticism. The girl’s crime? Saying ‘sex exists’.”

Following support from the author, the teenager told the Times that she is grateful the “important” issue is being discussed, but fears the “sensationalisation” created by Ms. Rowling’s input. 

The student told the paper that she has been mischaracterised online as “expressing ingrained prejudice” but was questioning the baroness in a “measured” way.

“It made me think I was mad. Otherwise how could people turn on me so bitterly?,” she said. 

The student said that during the question and answer session, the baroness “was implying critical theory took precedence over biological reality in defining women”. She said that on questioning the baroness, she was told that “trans people don’t have basic human rights” in Britain. After the session, the student said she apologised to the baroness if she came across as ‘rude’ in her questioning. 

Teachers supported the teenager at first but abandoned her after other pupils accused her of transphobia, according to the report. She returned to school on several occasions but was told she would be sent to work in the library if she said anything provocative in lessons, and was repeatedly bullied. She eventually left in September before completing her A-Levels, which she is now studying for at home.

A teacher at the school told the website Transgender Trend: “We know how these views are being silenced in the adult world through high-profile legal cases and the bullying of celebrities such as J.K. Rowling. This is also happening in schools.”

Worth reading in full.

Exams in Chaos as Invigilators Refuse to Return Over “Fears of Catching Covid”

Schoolchildren face further disruption in their exams this summer because of a shortage of invigilators, which unions are blaming on a fear of catching Covid in ‘unsafe’ school environments. MailOnline has more.

A warning from the Association of School and College Leaders says the shortfalls are having to be covered by other staff as well as parents on some occasions.

The union thinks the lower number of invigilators is down to them finding alternative work coupled with concerns over contracting coronavirus in schools.

But despite the ASCL sounding the alarm, the Department for Education said it was confident schools could cope – insisting they would have “robust plans in place”.

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said invigilator shortages meant schools had to train their own staff to do it.

He added: “It is also clear that there are sufficient difficulties in recruiting enough invigilators. It would obviously reassure these staff if free Covid testing was available for exam students and we once again appeal to the government to make this simple and obvious provision.

“We also have to question whether it is right to continue to subject young people to such a huge number of high-stakes terminal exams at GCSE as is the case in the current system.

“Stress and anxiety were already problems pre-pandemic. It must surely be possible to slim down the exam system and make it more proportionate and humane.”

Usually every 30 students need to have one invigilator covering them, but the number has been increased to 40 due to the shortfall.

Rules forbidding teachers from supervising their own subjects have also been relaxed.

Somehow I suspect that the main reason is the general worker shortage, while the gripe about Covid safety is just the usual OTT health and safety moaning from the unions.

Worth reading in full.

New Spanish Study Finds That Masking in Schools Does Nothing

Before ‘The Science’ flipped in the spring of 2020, the consensus among Western epidemiologists was that community masking doesn’t affect the spread of respiratory pathogens like influenza. As Jonathan Van Tam said on April 3rd 2020, “there is no evidence” to support the general wearing of face masks.

Although masks might block large droplets in close-contact settings like hospitals, and thereby slightly lower the risk of transmission, they can’t block airborne particles – which simply go through/around them, and then remain aloft for minutes or even hours.

As a result, large indoor setting like supermarkets, transit stations or classrooms soon fill up with airborne particles – even if everyone’s wearing a mask.

A new Spanish study strongly supports the pre-Covid conventional wisdom that masks don’t stop transmission of respiratory pathogens. The study uses quite a powerful design, which makes its results all the more convincing.

Ermengol Coma and colleagues analysed data on a large cohort of Spanish children aged three to eleven, whom they followed for the first term of the school year from September to December of 2021. During this period, there was a mask mandate in place for children in primary school (aged six and up) but not for those in pre-school (aged three to five).

Hence the researchers compared outcomes between children aged five (who were not subject to the mandate) and those aged six (who were subject to the mandate).

Private School Downgraded by Ofsted for Being Too Woke and Neglecting Actual Teaching

A leading London private school has been downgraded by education watchdog Ofsted for placing more weight on teaching “social justice” than on learning “subject-specific knowledge and skills” while some pupils felt their views were “suppressed” in lessons. The Evening Standard has the story.

The American School in St John’s Wood, which charges £32,650 a year, was downgraded from “outstanding” in its previous inspection to “requires improvement”.

In a report from an inspection from December 2021, Ofsted noted that leaders of the school, which educates pupils from age four to 18, had high expectations and “gives strong importance to equality and inclusion”.

But it added: “Sometimes, however, teaching places much more weight on the school’s approach to social justice than on learning subject-specific knowledge and skills.”

The report said that the school provided opportunities for pupils with different characteristics to discuss issues affecting them.

“However, not everyone felt that they are able to express their views freely in class,” it added.

“A significant number felt that their voices are not encouraged, or in some cases, are suppressed.”

In November 2021, the Times reported that non-white pupils had been recruited to affinity groups for people of colour, which some parents felt was discriminatory towards their children.

Parents also expressed concern about the teaching of concepts such as “white fragility” to their children.

Former headteacher Robin Appleby left the school in January.

The report praised the school’s music curriculum, which it said was “broad and balanced” but added that “in other areas of the curriculum, the approach is not as balanced”.

“This is particularly where teaching places more emphasis on the school’s social justice programme than on the acquisition of specific subject content,” it added.

Ofsted said that in the school’s lower school curriculum for social studies, pupils “spend much time repeatedly considering identity (including analysing their own characteristics) rather than learning, for example, geographical knowledge”.

Makes a nice change to see the Blob doing something anti-woke and curbing some of the ideological excesses.

Worth reading in full.

77% Rise in Children Needing Mental Health Treatment

There has been a 77% rise in the number of children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health crisis, according to BBC News.

Some 409,347 under-18s were referred to the NHS in England for specialist care for issues such as suicidal thoughts and self harm between April and October 2021.

Head teachers also report a huge rise in less severe mental health issues.

The government plans 400 mental health teams to support schools by 2023.

The NHS Digital referrals data analysed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the BBC, includes the most serious and urgent cases where the child faces an immediate risk from an eating disorder, self-harm or suicidal thoughts. In the same six month period in 2019, there were 230,591 referrals for under-18s.

There were 349,449 under-18s in touch with NHS child and adolescent psychiatric teams at the end of October 2021, the highest number on record.

I wonder how the teaching unions, headteachers, school governors, local education authorities and the Department for Education, all of whom bear responsibility for the closure of schools and the confinement of children to their homes, feel about these figures?

Worth reading in full.

Parents Fight Back Against Schools Ignoring the Easing of Plan B Restrictions

Parent group UsForThem has urged parents to fight back against teaching unions and over-zealous health authorities that have urged schools to ignore the easing of Plan B restrictions in schools. As of today, the Government has advised schools to drop the requirement that children should wear masks in classrooms and won’t have to wear masks in communal areas from January 27th. MailOnline has more.

Parents have launched a campaign to prevent “overzealous” schools from imposing masks in schools after teaching unions threatened to derail Boris Johnson’s easing of Covid curbs.

Head teachers in England are set to ignore the Prime Minister’s bonfire of Plan B restrictions by compelling pupils to wear face coverings in classrooms.

Britain’s big teaching unions have accused the embattled Tory leader of making the decision to save his own political career as he handles the fallout from ‘Partygate’, rather than basing it on “sound public health and scientific advice”.

The National Education Union warned against lifting Omicron measures “too quickly”, claiming it could lead to “more disruption” for schools.

Its general secretary Dr Mary Bousted called the removal of masks “premature’” adding: “Rather than announcements aimed at saving Boris Johnson’s job, (the) Government should be exercising a duty of care to the nation’s pupils and the staff who educate them.”

Geoff Barton, the ASCL’s boss, said: “There is a danger that we are heading once again for a situation in which the Government gives the impression that the crisis is over when in actual fact there is huge disruption continuing to take place in education.”

Parent group UsForThem, which campaigned to get classrooms reopened during the pandemic, has now urged its supporters to bombard MPs and ministers with letters to “stop overzealous local public health authorities from unilaterally implementing face masks in schools”.

Worth reading in full.

UsForThem has published a template letter on its website that parents can send to ministers in the Department for Education, copying in their MP, if their child’s school is still insisting they wear masks in classrooms.

Face Masks in Schools Could be Ditched Within Days

Compulsory masks in schools could be ditched within days under plans being considered by ministers. According to one member of the Government, it will definitely happen before January 26th, the day earmarked for the scrapping of most ‘Plan B’ restrictions. Today’s Sun has more.

Falling Covid rates mean face coverings in schools could be scrapped before Plan B restrictions are lifted – which is expected on January 26th.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi is desperate to free youngsters from having to cover up all day long in classrooms.

One Government insider said: “Masks in schools could theoretically come off sooner than January 26th – if we start seeing really good numbers.

“They are not not linked to Plan B, so it could happen sooner than lifting Plan B. It’s not going to be any slower.”

Compulsory face masks in classrooms were imposed at the beginning of term amid fear Omicron could overwhelm the NHS. But the Government has admitted the evidence for using masks in schools to reduce Covid spread is “not conclusive”.

And new stats reveal Covid infection rates have dropped below 100,000 a day in the UK for the first time in over three weeks. Stats whizz Sir David Spiegelhalter yesterday said that Covid cases have now peaked.

Worth reading in full.

Forcing Children to Wear Masks is Dystopian, Says Gruffalo Author Julia Donaldson

Forcing pupils to wear facemasks in the classroom is dystopian and critics should not be smeared as Covid-deniers, children’s author Julia Donaldson has said. The Times has the story.

The creator of The Gruffalo said that she feared the use of face coverings in schools was becoming normalised and that children’s education should not be “sacrificed” to protect the NHS.

Donaldson, 73, has written around 200 books, many of which have been adapted for television and stage. The Gruffalo has sold more than 13 million copies and been translated into more than 100 languages.

The former secondary school English teacher and former children’s laureate said: “Even if the current proposals are only for three weeks, this could be repeated and become something considered normal whenever there is infection, whereas in fact it should not be considered normal, it is alien – even dystopian.

“Children are children for such a short time, I don’t think they should be sacrificed like this.”

“They’re seen as a gesture that isn’t costing the government any money and as something that is not doing any harm. Because of the climate of fear, people have readily accepted something I regard as unacceptable, and that I fear may now be seen as a normal part of life.”

She told the Times that it was vital for teachers to be able to read pupils’ facial expressions during lessons and that many people were too scared to speak out against face masks in case of a social media backlash.

“There is too much polarity. It’s unfortunate that the start of Covid coincided with the US election,” she said. “People were equating any arguments against lockdown or masks with being a Republican or Trumpian.”

Donaldson, who has been left with a long-term Covid symptom called parosmia, which makes smells seem overpowering and food taste disgusting, said: “I’m very pro-vaccination. I’ve been triple-jabbed. I’ve had Covid. I’m not a denier.

“You don’t have to be right-wing [to oppose masks in schools]. I know a lot of people who are passionately anti-lockdown because they’re very sympathetic to the plight of lonely and vulnerable people or those with mental illness.”

The article notes that “a study used to justify the introduction of masks in English schools implied they had at best a marginal effect” and quotes the pro-lockdown scientist Dr Simon Clarke saying: “As the report points out, face coverings can become contaminated quickly, so repeated putting them on and taking them off, and touching them, could present an opportunity for viral transmission. Expecting children to wear them properly all day and to keep them clean is somewhat optimistic. An unwashed face covering worn daily will quickly become akin to wearing a dirty handkerchief across your face.”

When even the Times and lockdown fanatics are speaking out against an intervention, you know there’s something in the air.

Worth reading in full.

Schools in Chaos, say Teaching Unions

More than a third of schools have at least one in 10 teachers absent due to Covid reasons, as some students refuse to wear masks in class or take tests, according to teaching unions. MailOnline has more.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said schools so far are largely managing staff absences well, but that education chiefs have warned of trickier times ahead.

A survey by the union found one in three school leaders are experiencing staff absence levels of over 10% as a result of soaring Omicron cases.

A majority (95%) have at least some pupils off for Covid-related reasons at the start of term – and 29% said they had more than 10% of their students absent.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has admitted that staff absences are likely to rise in schools in the weeks ahead, amid warnings that heads should prepare for as many as one in four absences.

Mr Whiteman told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “Our members are doing everything they possibly can to keep the show on the road and to make sure face-to-face education continues.

“Our survey of 2,000 school leaders this week tells us more than a third have 10% or more of their staff away for Covid reasons at the moment, but they’re managing that reasonably well, with only 7% of those having to collapse classes into larger classes, and just 4% sending children home.

“That’s on absence rates of about 10%, and the government is warning everybody to expect absence rates of about 25%, so it’s going to be incredibly difficult.

“But yet again what we can see is school leaders and their teams stepping up and rising to the challenge.”

Worth reading in full.

Meanwhile, “huge numbers” of pupils at six secondary schools in the North West are refusing to do LFTs and wear masks according to the NASUWT teaching union. It says one Lancashire school has only 67 children out of 1,300 willing to follow guidance.