Lockdown 2.0 is here, and as memories of banana bread and Tiger King start to resurface, one thing that is different this time around is that schools, colleges and universities will remain open. So as some of us prepare to stay at home and others continue with going into work, we’ve pulled together some key news and highlights from the education sector this week.
Flexible working ambassador schools
DfE is looking to recruit eight flexible working ambassador schools across England to receive a grant to increase flexible working in schools. They will be looking at improving the policies, practice and culture around flexible working and increasing the likelihood of flexible working requests being accepted by providing guidance to teachers who want to access flexible working opportunities. For all the ways the pandemic has forced us to adapt our way of life, the move towards a flexible way of working while ensuring students still receive quality education and teachers’ wellbeing is taken into consideration can only be a benefit for the future.
Lift-off for new generation of space scientists
A press release from the UK Space Agency has announced that apprentices in England will soon be able to boldly study what no students have studied before in the UK, thanks to a new Government-backed space engineering apprenticeship. Launching in January 2021, the Space Engineering Technician apprenticeship will help young people gain the technical skills needed for a career in space and follows a successful collaboration between the UK Space Agency, Airbus and the University of Leicester. With the UK’s space industry booming, we can’t wait to watch the next generation of engineers as they achieve the nation’s space ambitions!
Broken schools and the stranded generation
This thought piece from Wired explains how even though schools are open, many children still aren’t learning. Primary school headteacher Ben Commins talks about how he has been feeling the pressure while navigating the chaos inflicted by the pandemic. But what is worrying him most is number of children isolating at home who have no way of completing online schoolwork and are at risk of falling behind. As we wait for a more cohesive solution, we are delighted to see campaigns from local organisations helping to distribute devices, such as Laptops for Kids in conjunction with WANdisco and LearnSheffield.
Ofsted moves school visits online
Ofsted has announced that its controversial ‘visits’ to schools and colleges this term will only be carried out remotely from later this week. The watchdog has linked the change to the new national lockdown. However, it also follows the news, revealed by Tes on Wednesday, that a primary had been forced to close after a visit from an inspector who tested positive for Covid-19. In a post on Twitter this evening, the watchdog confirmed it would now be carrying out its ‘visits’ to schools online from this Thursday. At a time where the quality of education is facing many challenges, it will be interesting to see how effective this new way of inspecting will be.
Poorest pupils can enrol for catch-up tuition
Disadvantaged pupils in England could begin focused tuition as early as next week, as booking opens for the new National Tutoring Programme. The government says there is clear evidence that poor pupils lost out most when schools were closed and we hope this scheme will be effective in closing the learning gap. "This is about levelling up those opportunities," said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. But education unions say tuition should be delivered by qualified teachers.