According to new draft government plans, teachers will not be able to stand less than a metre away from children for more than 15 minutes when schools fully reopen; whole-school assemblies will be banned; and children will have staggered lunch times, as well as home times.
Controversy surrounding GCSEs and A-levels
As GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled this year, teachers were instead put in the tricky situation of having to predict what their Year 11 and 13 students would have achieved, had they sat their exams.
This process is controversial – not only does it create setbacks for those students who would have “pulled it out of the bag” on the day of their exam, but it also does not acknowledge teachers’ unconscious bias towards students, relating to their gender, ethnicity and background.
The need for these grades to follow a certain data pattern for the school has also led people to question whether this system is fair.
Public divide: should kids be going back to school?
It’s an issue that has divided parents – and their WhatsApp groups – all over the UK. Should children go back to school, or is it safer for them to stay at home?
Telegraph readers have weighed in on the issue. Some believe children should hold out until September. “Schools should not rush to open, but wait until September so special measures can be put in place and all can prepare,” said Melissa, a secondary school teacher.
Meanwhile, Stephanie, a parent, argued for schools to reopen, as she worried about her son who is “badly missing his peers”. On Twitter, too, there has been a similar divide.
Before schools reopened to some children, a poll found that the majority of parents would not send their children back to school straightaway.
Yet other parents are desperate for schools to reopen – especially those who juggle homeschooling with holding down a full-time job. One writer said she will have to quit her job because her child’s school is still closed.
As lockdown restrictions start to lift, others argue it makes sense for children to return to school. The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said it was “ridiculous” that schools are opening after other parts of the economy – noting that children “could have spent two and a half months browsing Primark, but not been in school”.
Children missing out on education
Boris Johnson announced on June 19 that the Government will pay for private tutors for children who have fallen behind during lockdown as part of a £1 billion “catch-up” plan.
Schools will be given money to hire in-house tutors who can run extra classes for small groups of pupils throughout the academic year.
Two million children have done almost no home learning during lockdown, according to a study from University of London’s Institute of Education. The study, which assessed 4,500 households in the UK, found one in five pupils in the UK either did no home schoolwork at all or less than one hour a day.
This could be partly due to the standard of teaching in lockdown, which varies from school to school – with independent schools often offering a full timetable, and many state schools offering worksheets online with no teacher interaction for three months and counting. An estimated four million students have not had regular contact with their teachers, according to an academic study.