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Education insights: Covid contact absences quadruple, PE and Sport Premium announced and air pollution warning for schools.

In this week’s education insights, we explore the impact of rising Covid cases on schools as pupil absences grow. We also look at how Covid has impacted children’s relationship with writing and how teachers feel about introducing more climate change focused curriculums.

 £320 million PE and Sport Premium will help schools prioritise physical activity with education

The Education Secretary has announced that primary school children in England will benefit from higher quality PE lessons and better sport opportunities. The PE and Sport Premium will encourage children to play more sport, increase their social skills, and improve their physical activity after lockdown. Schools will also be able to improve the quality of their teaching and make longer-term, sustainable changes to their lessons. The announcement has been welcomed by ministers who have highlighted how “Keeping fit and active is absolutely vital for our children’s mental and physical health.” Here at Hopscotch we are glad to see more funding being given to support students’ physical education as we know through our work with Sport England how important PE lessons are in improving pupils physical and mental wellbeing.

 School Covid contact absences quadruple in a week    

In the latest attendance survey by the Department for Education, it is reported that 171,600 pupils missed school on June 17th due to potential contact with coronavirus. Significantly, this figure was a four-fold increase from the 40,200 recorded on June 10th. Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said that there is still “pressure being placed on schools to manage Covid-19 cases” and a need for local public health teams to be given the freedom to put additional precautions in place, where necessary. We hope to see some more government support for students who are being forced to miss more school due to Covid.

 Teachers back climate change direct action lessons    

According to a new survey published in the journal Environmental Education Research, over 50% of primary and secondary teachers believe that a climate change focused curriculum should be incorporated to help students act in the climate emergency. The lead author, Professor Paul Howard-Jones stated that teachers are ready and willing to move forward with radical, action-oriented programmes of education that can help students drive our response to climate change.” After our recent work at Hopscotch with Northumbrian Water group, we know just how important education programmes are in giving young people the opportunity to learn more about sustainability and how they can make a positive difference.

 New report warns that only a third of children and young people say they find pleasure in writing

A National Literacy Trust report, based on a survey of more than 40,000 young people aged eight to 18 in 2021, has found that only 34.5% of young people said they find pleasure from writing, compared to 39.8% last year. This is the lowest level of writing enjoyment recorded by the charity since they first started their research in 2010.  The report concludes: “The pandemic in 2020, its associated lockdowns and school closures have not only interrupted children and young people’s schooling but also appear to have had a negative impact on their writing.”

 Air pollution warning: Almost 8,000 schools in high pollution areas

More than 3.4 million UK children go to schools in areas where air pollution levels are above World Health Organisation recommended limits. Global Action Plan, the charity behind the research said that this means 27% of schools, which equates to 7,852 nursery, primary, secondary and sixth form settings, are in high pollution areas. Dr Maria Neira, director at the World Health Organisation, stated that “Schools should be safe places of learning, not places where students are at risk of health hazards”. Parents, children and schools are being encouraged to raise these concerns with local and national politicians. We hope to see politicians addressing this issue and finding ways to protect young people from the effects of climate change.

About the author

Lizzie Ferris

Lizzie has a first-class BA Honours in English Language from Sheffield Hallam University. She has spent over 6 years volunteering and working with young people and is passionate about making a positive impact in young people’s lives.

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