TikTok and a shoulder to cry on: why pupils in Gloucestershire wish lockdown school would never end

“We call it ‘strange school’,” says Caitlin, 15, slightly raising her voice across the the open space of the school hall where the pupils are carefully observing physical distancing. “Literally everything here is different now.”

Since lockdown, Caitlin has been coming to school five days a week, as she is among those whose schooling is considered a priority. With three younger siblings at home, she has to take on “a lot of responsibility for helping out”. Even in normal times, school is a haven for her. Over the past seven weeks it has become even more than that: an oasis of calm.

Rednock secondary is a specialist science college in the small market town of Dursley, Gloucestershire. This is not the affluent north Cotswolds of honeyed stone cottages, and the school is a typical comprehensive. Usually 1,500 students troop through its gates every morning. Today, 42 pupils are in.

At the moment there is one teacher to four students, which means pupils such as Caitlin can be given unprecedented tailored pastoral and academic support, without the usual pressures of time. “I think without school right now I’d be an emotional mess,” Caitlin says with a nervous smile. “It’s my GCSEs and I’m worried – we’re missing a massive chunk of learning. But I’ve had a teacher to help me whenever I’ve wanted. It’s given me that extra confidence.”

Here at Rednock, pupils have been encouraged to try a huge range of new creative and practical activities: knitting, Zumba, TikTok, baking, kite-making and sign language.

The school has ripped up timetables in a way no state school could normally contemplate. “We’ve said, we will be completely flexible to your needs,” says Kerala Cole, assistant headteacher. “We work in partnership with parents to personalise the deal for the students. It can be that they come in for just a couple of hours. And I think we are seeing huge benefits to that.”

One boy who had refused to attend for eight months, has been coming in every day, thanks to this flexibility and the attention he can now be given. Another year 8 child, “who arrived midway through this year and has been struggling … he’s been attending for four weeks now and he’s really benefited”, says Cole. “You can just see how his shoulders have relaxed.”

The gap in GCSE results between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and the rest is thought to be around 19 months and, without changes in policy priorities, at the current rate it will take 50 years to close, according to the Education Policy Institute thinktank.

Many fear children will fall even further behind during the pandemic, one reason the government gives for wanting to reopen schools to more pupils by 1 June. Rednock was hoping some 240 pupils would attend during lockdown, but numbers have been lower than expected.

The corridors of the school’s spacious modern building are hushed. Children walk around alone, and don’t wear uniform. For many, “strange school” has huge advantages. “Before, I had quite a few classmates who were really annoying and distracting, but now this new way, it’s quieter,” says Edie, 13.

“Teachers are ever so supportive, and it’s calmer because there’s not tonnes of people crowding around,” adds Molly, 11.

“There’s less people who intimidate other people,” says Alfie, 12, whose parents, both nurses, have been at work during the crisis. “You can be yourself more rather than be the person other people think you should be.” His mum has had Covid-19, he says, and has recovered.

Everyone nods. “Before, people used to sometimes judge you,” says Samira, 11. “You can sometimes have fake friends who really bring you down. This has given you a little bit of a break.”

Because the school is being so careful about physical distancing, I meet students in the hall, with one child per desk. This small group either have key-worker parents, are under the care of a social worker, have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) for their special needs, or are otherwise defined as “high priority” by their teachers. They miss their friends but, to a child, say they feel immense relief from the pressures of “normal” school.

“The teachers have more time to spend with you, and you get the help you need,” says Maisie, 12, whose mother works in food manufacturing. Samira agrees. “Teachers feel more like family now.” There is enthusiastic nodding from her schoolmates.

The headteacher, David Alexander, and Cole, went through their entire roll to identify pupils they felt should have the opportunity to attend – those who were vulnerable, although not in the government’s stated categories.

When the Covid-19 crisis finally ends, schools must never return to normal

“We want as many to come in as possible,” Alexander says. As schools closed across the country, Rednock staff telephoned 280 families to make sure they knew their child had a place. “Some parents and carers are hesitant,” Alexander acknowledges. “And some prefer to have their children at home.” But efforts are unstinting to support the 160 or so students who, Cole says, “we would class as vulnerable, and who we’d prefer to be in school but aren’t”.

Cole feels anxious for the welfare of some children who haven’t been seen for the past seven weeks. She is in regular contact with their social workers and, in some cases, the police. Teachers continue to check in, ringing some children weekly, some daily.

In school, staff are sensitive to new needs. “Some here have really difficult home lives and they feel safer in school. And they feel worried about their parents who are at work. We’ve had tears, shouting, aggression,” says Cole.

“Or they go quiet, or go off on their own,” adds Alexander. “Or you get over-the-top laughter, or clinginess,” says Cole.

When all students do come back, Alexander and Cole are hoping there will be lessons they can use from lockdown. They know, too, that the return of the hurley burley will affect the more vulnerable children.

And the pupils have mixed feelings about normal school resuming. Samira hopes there might be smaller classes, but says: “I’m not excited about going back – all the madness and screaming in corridors.” Molly agrees.: “It’ll probably be more stressful. Everything crowded again.”

Caitlin is looking to the positives. “I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on who I want to be when I’m older,” she says. “I can be quite negative, and this time has given me a break. The extra support from school means that I know even when things get tough – because we’re in a pandemic and I’m getting through it – I can get through other things now.”

Alexander and Cole emphasise that even in normal times this school tries to create a family atmosphere. But to these children, a caring school has never felt as much of a reality as it does now. There is no testing or targets, no pressure to achieve academically. They feel adults are there for them. And despite the immense stresses and limitations of living in a time of pandemic, they are blossoming.

* All children’s names have been changed.

Source: Read Full Article


Ministers under pressure over schools return date

Ministers are facing pressure from councils and teaching unions to reconsider plans to reopen English primary schools to some pupils from 1 June.

At least 11 councils have expressed concerns over safety and timing.

Teaching union NASUWT said it remained “unconvinced” reopening schools was “appropriate or practicable”.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said No 10 was taking all concerns “very seriously”.

He told BBC Breakfast that 1 June was “an important date for everyone to work towards” but he said the government accepted there may be “issues” from employers that need to be addressed “which might not mean that we’ll see a uniform approach”.

For most pupils, schools have been closed since 20 March.

From 1 June, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in England will be able to return to school if infection rates and the government’s other tests at the time allow it. England is the only UK nation to set a return date so far.

Schools in Wales will not reopen on 1 June, while those in Scotland and Northern Ireland may not restart before the summer holidays.

But on Tuesday, Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire advised its schools against wider reopening, following similar moves from Bury, Liverpool and Hartlepool.

Conservative-led Solihull Council also warned some school places may not be ready for the first week of June. Manchester Council and Birmingham City Council have made similar warnings.

Leeds City Council said it would not expect all its schools to reopen to all pupils “from day one”.

Judith Blake, the council leader, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government should be flexible when it comes to opening schools.

“Let’s move away from an arbitrary date and work with our schools… the government needs to understand that they need to take local factors into account,” the Labour councillor said.

Stockport Council said its schools would not open until 10 June; while Slough Borough Council said schools would not welcome more pupils until 8 June at the earliest.

Meanwhile Brighton and Hove City Council said it had advised schools only to reopen when risk assessments indicated it “safe to do so”.

A number of the 153 English local authorities have acknowledged safety concerns but have not urged all their schools to reject the proposed timeframe.

Two thirds of primary schools are supported by their local authority, which means they do not have complete freedom to make their own decisions, unlike academies.

Emma Knights, the chief executive of the National Governance Association, which advises school governors, told the BBC it would be hard for governors to ignore the position of their local authorities.

She said as councils might be legally judged the employers of school staff, governors would have to have very strong reasons to make a different decision.

The reproduction, or R number – the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average – has come down across every part of the UK since the start of the epidemic.

But multiple research groups, including those at the University of Cambridge, show it has come down the most in London. It is higher in the north-east of England.

Metro mayors in the north-west of England have made an “urgent” call for the release of regional Covid-19 reproduction rate figures, saying it would help residents making “informed decisions about the risk and help decide whether they wish to take a more cautious approach to the relaxation of the lockdown rules”.

Meanwhile, a survey of 29,000 members of the teachers’ union NASUWT found just one in 20 thought it would be safe for more pupils to return next month.

Patrick Roach, the union’s general secretary, said the government had “thus far failed to win the trust and confidence of teachers about the safety of reopening schools”.

“It is now imperative that the government takes every available opportunity to provide the necessary assurances that teachers are seeking,” he said.

The union leader called for all the scientific evidence from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to be made available to teachers and schools as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, deputy chief scientific adviser Prof Dame Angela McLean told the Downing Street coronavirus briefing that an effective system for tracing new coronavirus cases needed to be in place before lockdown restrictions could be changed.

Asked whether a test, track and trace system will be in place by 1 June, Robert Buckland said he hoped to see it work by that time, but it “won’t necessarily be as widespread and as full-blown as we would like”.

‘Acceptable level of risk’

The doctors’ union, the British Medical Association, said schools should reopen “as soon as it is safe to do so”, but warned “a zero-risk approach is not possible”.

The BMA’s public health medicine committee chairman, Dr Peter English, said there was “growing evidence” that the risk to children from coronavirus is “extremely small”.

But he cautioned there is “no united view yet” on whether children can spread it.

“This is about ‘safe’ being an acceptable level of risk,” the BMA’s Dr Peter English wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Last week, the BMA said Covid-19 infection rates were too high for England’s schools to reopen.

Attendance by primary school pupils will be voluntary and schools are reporting varied levels of interest from the parents they have contacted.

Secondary schools are likely to stay closed until September but the government hopes those facing exams next year – such as Years 10 and 12 – will get some time in school before the summer holidays.

On Monday, former Labour prime minister Tony Blair said Boris Johnson’s administration was right to start reopening schools as he said some children will have received “no education at all” during closures.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We want children back in schools as soon as possible, because being with their teachers and friends is so important for their education and their wellbeing.

“Plans for a cautious, phased return of some year groups from 1 June, at the earliest, are based on the best scientific and medical advice. The welfare of children and staff has been at the heart of all decision making.

“We have engaged closely with a range of relevant organisations, including the unions, throughout the past eight weeks, including organising for them to hear directly from the government’s scientific advisers last Friday, and will continue to do so.”

In other developments:

Source: Read Full Article


Colorado lawmakers slash $493 million from higher education, but blow will be softened by federal coronavirus aid – The Denver Post

By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee slashed $493 million from next year’s higher education budget, a massive 58% cut from this year’s funding levels by lawmakers trying to fill the state’s $3.3 billion revenue shortfall.

The impact of Tuesday’s decision by the budgetary committee, however, will be softened by Gov. Jared Polis’ Monday night executive order that gives $450 million in federal CARES Act money to the state’s public colleges and universities for a broad list of uses related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Accounting for the federal money and the state cuts, higher education institutions are facing a roughly 5% reduction next year in how much they will have available to them, said Henry Sobanet, Colorado State University System chief financial officer.

The threat of enrollment declines poses another formidable challenge — possibly meaning furloughs, cuts to academic programs and deferment of building projects.

“I think (the federal money) takes the really scary scenarios off the table,” Sobanet said, adding that the bigger issue remains enrollment uncertainty. Over a third of higher education revenue in the state comes from tuition.


Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit

Source: Read Full Article


Grammar schools created lasting divisions

Joan Bakewell rightly praises the 1944 Education Act for establishing free secondary education (VE Day was the spark for change. Coronavirus could be too, 8 May), thus giving her the opportunity to study at a Stockport grammar school. Oddly though, she says the 11-plus exam “split educational options”. There was no grammar school option for those who “failed” the 11-plus. I wonder if the children whose self-esteem took a tumble felt they were part of a “more equitable society”. How wonderful then that another former Stockport pupil, Angela Rayner MP, has achieved positions on opposition frontbenches with qualifications not from Oxbridge, but a further education college.
Paul Tattam
Chinley, Derbyshire

Lady Bakewell appears to laud the introduction of grammar schools through the Education Act without acknowledging how they inadvertently created a new division in society. Successive governments’ failure to invest in technical education through the same legislation meant that working-class children who did not pass the 11-plus were left with the inferior option of secondary modern schools. The consequences were long-lasting.
John Webster

Join the debate – email [email protected]

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit

Source: Read Full Article


‘I feel I’ve come home’: can forest schools help heal refugee children?

When Kate Milman was 21, she paused her English degree at the University of East Anglia to join protests against the Newbury bypass. It was 1996, and the road was being carved out through idyllic wooded countryside in Berkshire. She took up residence in a treehouse, in the path of the bulldozers, and lived there for months. It was a revelation. She lived intimately with the catkins, the calling birds, the slow-slow-fast change in the seasons. Despite being in a precarious position as a protester, she felt completely safe and her brain was calmed.

“You know when you go camping and go back to your house, and everything feels wrong? The lighting is harsh and everything seems complicated indoors. It just got under my skin, this feeling – that [living in the woods] is like being at home.”

Finally, however, she was evicted from her forest heartland. The men and their machines arrived beneath her tree. Kate was arrested under a newly created “aggravated trespass” law and barred from joining the protests again. The wood was ripped apart.

“That level of grief – it felt like losing somebody,” Kate says now. It was a highly complex woodland and she had come to know it intimately. “I knew how beautiful it was at dawn and at full moon, and then it was bulldozed. When you watch that amount of stupidity, when you have that much grief and impotence, what can you do with it?”

The idea for Wild Things, a workers’ cooperative set up to provide children with experience of the natural world, was born. For three days each week, she and her fellow co-op members, Kath, Kat and Nick (her partner), provide half-day sessions for groups of nine pupils from various city schools.

I’ve come to a Wild Things day at Bestwood Country Park, a hilltop woodland on the edge of Nottingham. The wind runs through the canopy in waves, worrying the leaves, but it is calm and snug in the green, brambly understorey. The slender trunks of silver birches shine in the low sunlight.

We are both layered in the warm, shapeless garb of the forest school practitioner. From the moment formal, government-provided schooling began in the Victorian era, dissenters have championed alternative forms of education based outdoors, which have placed the health and creativity of the child at their heart. “Forest school”, a specific type of outdoor schooling with an emphasis on imaginative play in a forest setting and a fire circle, developed in Britain in the 1990s after teachers visited outdoor schools in Denmark. It has flourished in the last two decades without state support, as parents react against the rigid, test-based learning imposed by government reforms and the national curriculum.

When I talk to people about forest schooling, everyone agrees that it’s very important to help children “connect” with the natural world. But, they often say, it’s terribly middle class and white, isn’t it?

The children we’re with today are mostly 10-year-olds, members of an “English as a second language” group from Forest Fields primary and nursery school. The school’s bucolic name belies its location in central Nottingham. Its 620 children speak 52 languages. Everyone in today’s group arrived in Britain in the last two years. Several started school only two months ago. They are from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Romania and Syria, and some came from refugee camps. “You don’t know what they’ve seen,” says their teaching assistant, Yasmin Khaliq, who speaks five languages. She has been bringing groups to Wild Things for nine years. “It’s a godsend,” she says. “It’s all outdoors, they are seeing things with their own eyes, there’s no language barrier.”

From somewhere above us comes the anxious “cheeeept-cheeept” of a great spotted woodpecker. Then another call, carried on the wind. “Kooooo-eeeeeeeeee!”

Kate replies, with a completely unexpected volume: “Kooooo-eeeeeeeeee!”

The children have been allowed to run ahead, alone, through the woods, and they follow the sound of Kate’s call. I hear the heaving of a small pair of lungs before I see the boy, Mohammad, a slim child bent double with effort, legs flying out sideways like a skittish calf, eager to win his personal race. Next up the hill is a tiny, beaming Syrian girl. “I’m Amira, but you can call me Lion,” she grins.

All nine children are effervescent. I can’t banish the image of a group of puppies, bouncing around outdoors for the first time. Kate and I walk to the Wild Things base camp. The children scamper ahead, shimmying around brambles, poking around the site with the sharp-eyed curiosity of chickens, investigating branches, tree stumps and some interesting-looking clippers laid out on a tarpaulin.

On the days Kate doesn’t take children on camps, she “scrats around” for charitable funding because, mostly, the only way to get pupils from cash-strapped state schools into the woods is to offer the sessions free. The Wild Things staff survive on a minuscule co-op “share” wage. Kate lives with Nick and their eight-year-old son in a small rural housing co-op. They drive a battered high-top Transit stuffed with bow saws, loppers, clippers, ropes, tarpaulins, plastic mugs, hot chocolate and other essentials such as children’s wellies and woollen gloves: the pupils rarely bring clothes suitable for outdoors.

The children sit round the fire circle while Kate, Kath and Kat (“the three Ks”) show them how to use loppers and saws, and explain today’s activities. The pupils choose their own adventure. This child-led approach is intended to offer an alternative to conventional didactic, adult-led education, which misses “that whole chunk of experience where children are just getting to be a wild animal”, Kate says. Ten-year-olds “are at that stage of development where they need to feel liberated and free”.

Today the children can learn to use bows and arrows, build a fire and cook on it, or lay a trail, hide and have another group track them down. The activities, says Kate when we break for lunch, are really giving them an excuse to mooch and dream in the forest. No two children respond to the place in the same way. Kate and her colleagues are constantly surprised by the infinite span of children’s creative thought and their willingness to express it in the woods: one boy decides to build a gym, another a mask; a girl spins stories – about a frog and a turtle crossing her path.

I join Kat and a trio of girls – keen little Amira; Homa, a Pakistani girl; and Cristina, a Roma Gypsy from Romania with a long plait, who wears a purple jumpsuit and a shiny purple padded jacket. She can’t speak much English but understands plenty.

Our mission is to lay a trail of arrows made from sticks through the wood to a spot where we will hide from the other members of the group.

“Like da?” says Cristina, fashioning an arrow from three large branches.

“Make it smaller?” suggests Kat.

“No. Big!” says Cristina.

Cristina gasps as we twist along a narrow path, passing a tree stump covered in gleaming bracket fungus. Beech leaves shine luminous orange on the forest floor. “Come on, guys!” says Cristina. Last week she didn’t talk at all, says Kat.

I struggle to break a large stick into arrow pieces. Homa laughs: “Cristina is stronger than you,” she says.

I assumed that most refugees have come to the UK from cities, but Wild Things has worked with many migrant children who grew up in rural areas. Meanwhile British-born city children belong to a country called Indoors: they ask Kate, “What’s mud?” or, “Why are there so many trees here?” It is often only in Britain that rural children from overseas are confined to city-centre flats. Their questions – “Are there elephants?” or, “Are there deadly snakes here?” – are rooted in experience of their countries of origin. For many, Kate says, the woods awaken lost memories and a yearning for home. “As soon as we light a fire, they say, ‘Ah, I know this’ or they point to a plant and get really animated. They are in their element.”

One group last spring included a partially sighted girl. “Walking up into the woods, she stopped and said, ‘Listen to that sound!’” remembers Kate. “It was the buzzing of the insects.” It reminded the girl of her former country. At the end of her six weeks, she said, “I feel like I’ve come home.” The Wild Things staff frequently hear similar declarations. “Often children can feel at home in the woods in a way they find more difficult in the community they have landed in, where technology is everything, money is everything, they are at the bottom of the pecking order and there are massive tensions in the area. In the woods they are on a level playing field. They can just be kids again.”

We return to the fire circle and the children discuss their plans for next week.

“Make a wood house,” says Sanaya. “I made a house with sticks in Pakistan. My grandma makes a fire like this.”

It reminds her of home? “Yes.”

What is the best thing about the wood? “Everything,” says Homa. “Hide-and-seek, the fire, the bread, because that makes us all hot.”

This prompts Adnan to reminisce about Syria. “I used to like playing with my cousins. It was just like this but with less trees.”

Cristina is the most reluctant to leave.

“Next time, again?” she asks Kate, looking worried. Kate counts on her fingers to show Cristina seven days.

Cristina’s face lengthens at the prospect of such a long wait, but she joins the rest of the group hurtling back down the hill to their minibus heading for the city, and their new homes.

Kate and her fellow Wild Things workers often feel the weight of the children’s longing to stay in the woods. “They constantly say things like, ‘I feel so free out here,’” she says. Already today, on her second of six sessions, Sanaya was saying, “I know I won’t come back because my family haven’t got a car.” After the six weeks, Wild Things give every child a leaflet with bus routes, showing how they can reach the forest from Nottingham. But the bus drops them in the nearest village, and there’s no cafe in the woods. It will be a very strong-willed 10-year-old who makes her own way here, and an act of faith for her parents to follow her.

Wild Things know their work enhances the children’s lives but, as Kate points out, “It’s very hard to measure improvements in confidence, self-esteem, friendships, behaviour. Sometimes you do see something tangible, other times you don’t. That’s not to say it’s not happening.”

Forest school is still relatively new, educational research is poorly funded and a child’s achievement is shaped by myriad circumstances that make it difficult for academics to control for every confounding factor. But there is an enormous weight of scientific research demonstrating the benefits of wild green space for adult mental and physical wellbeing, and a growing body of evidence pointing to the specific benefits of outdoor schooling.

The physical gains are easiest to measure. In one study, a group of Scottish nine-11-year-olds were fitted with accelerometers to measure their physical activity during a typical school day and during a day at forest school. These revealed that activity levels were 2.2 times greater during forest school days than on normal school days that included PE lessons, and 2.7 times greater than on “inactive” school days. Scandinavian studies of outdoor schools have also found they improve children’s attentiveness. In 2017, a four-year study from Norway identified more inattention and hyperactivity symptoms the less time children spent at an outdoor preschool.

Perhaps most surprisingly, there is also hard evidence that outdoor schooling can produce better academic outcomes. A three-year study of primary school pupils who were “struggling to thrive” found a group who attended weekly forest school sessions achieved better overall attendance than their primary school-only peers, and markedly better attainment. The forest school pupils’ writing improved by 18% compared with 7% among comparably disadvantaged pupils; reading improved by 27%, compared with 22% among school-only children; and maths attainment rose by 27% compared with 11%.

Even so, forest school teachers are acutely aware that they offer only a tiny taste of magic in childhoods where more time is spent indoors than in any preceding generation. “We help a child to fall in love with nature and we don’t know if they’ll ever be able to access it again,” Kate says. She thinks for a moment. At least the children now know the woods are there. The place may call to them at any point in the future. “It’s better to know there’s a bit missing. It might be something you can use in your later life,” she says. “To know that the woods can make you feel better.”

Some names have been changed.

Wild Child by Patrick Barkham is published by Granta at £16.99. To order a copy for £12.99, go to

Source: Read Full Article


Colorado AG vows to fight new federal campus sexual assault rules in court

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on Wednesday forcefully pushed back on new federal campus sexual-assault rules that would bolster the rights of the accused, promising to fight the U.S. Department of Education in court.

“The state of Colorado will challenge the U.S. Department of Education’s new rules under Title IX that weaken protections for victims of sexual assault and harassment on Colorado’s college and university campuses and undermine the ability of Colorado to adopt more protective approaches than required by the federal government,” Weiser said in a statement. “The new rules mandated by the federal government threaten to prevent or discourage victims from coming forward and receiving the justice and protection they deserve.”

The U.S. Education Department on Wednesday finalized campus sexual assault rules that bolster the rights of the accused, reduce legal liabilities for schools and colleges, and narrow the scope of cases that schools will be required to investigate.

The change announced by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reshapes the way the nation’s schools respond to complaints of sexual misconduct. It is meant to replace policies from the Obama administration that DeVos previously revoked, saying they pressured schools to deny the rights of accused students.

“Today we release a final rule that recognizes we can continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our core values of fairness, presumption of innocence and due process,” she said. “This empowers survivors with more tools than ever before.”

Under the new rules, the definition of sexual harassment is narrowed to include only misconduct that is “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it effectively denies the victim access to the school’s education programs. The rules add dating violence, domestic violence and stalking to the definition of sexual harassment.

The Obama administration, by contrast, used a wider definition that included a range of conduct that “interferes with or limits” a student’s access to the school. It said that could include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

Colorado’s colleges and universities already have effective policies that balance support for victims of sexual assault and harassment and due process for the accused, Weiser argued in the statement, adding that schools shouldn’t be forced to choose between keeping their policies and losing federal funding.

The new federal proposals received pushback from Colorado schools when they were first unveiled in November 2018.

“In Colorado, we are standing up against this unwise and unjust federal preemption of our authority that would replace our time-tested Colorado-based approaches with an untested plan developed at the federal level,” the attorney general said. “Our institutions of higher education are dedicated to maintaining the sound policies, procedures, and state laws currently in place, and we will fight in court for their flexibility to do so.”

DeVos’ policy adds new measures intended to make sure students accused of sexual misconduct are judged fairly in campus disciplinary hearings. Students on both sides must be given equal access to evidence gathered in the school’s investigation and be allowed to bring an adviser, which can be a lawyer, to the proceedings.

Chief among the changes is a policy requiring colleges to allow students on both sides of a case to question one another during live campus hearings. The questioning would be done through representatives to avoid direct confrontation, but opponents have said it’s a cruel policy that forces victims to relive the trauma of sexual violence.

Democrats and education groups had asked DeVos to delay any changes until after the coronavirus pandemic, saying colleges don’t have time to implement new federal rules while they respond to the crisis.

Source: Read Full Article


Justin Welby gives biggest online school assembly

Even for an archbishop this must have been a tough gig.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had to deliver a sermon to what was claimed to be the UK’s biggest ever school assembly.

He couldn’t even tell them to stop talking at the back, because all the children were watching online.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby was addressing the Oak National Academy, the virtual school that has sprung up to serve millions of pupils studying at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

“I suspect this year, 2020, will stick in the mind for many reasons and there are lots of things that you will be going through,” the leader of the Church of England told his young audience.

But his message was intended to be uplifting. It was the voice of Zoom rather than the voice of doom.

The word he focused on was “hope”.

“Hope means the certain expectation of something you don’t have yet, but you will have in the future because it’s been promised by God,” said the archbishop.

“Hope is hope of life, hope of purpose, hope of peace, hope of justice, equality and a good future,” he said, talking from his kitchen, as he did when he delivered his sermon on Easter Sunday.

This was echoed by two of the pupils who introduced the archbishop, Eternity Carter and Marvellous Matthew-Okoromi.

“Hope is something that’s in my heart to let me have strength,” said Eternity from Sneinton primary school in Nottingham.

So what examples do you use in a modern assembly, to an audience of many faiths and none?

There were not going to be any clunky sporting metaphors, nothing along the lines of “in a way Jesus is like a goalkeeper”.

Instead there was a big visual clue in the book standing beside him on the kitchen table, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

“May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears,” said Archbishop Welby, quoting the former South African president and drawing on his perseverance through long years of imprisonment.

It was a message of support in troubled times – and he touched on the sadness and pressures felt by families during the lockdown, including those who had faced illness and bereavement.

It was also literally homely, without any clerical backdrop, instead framed by a kitchen cupboard, a wooden camel that might have escaped from a Christmas crib set, and a radio that he perhaps uses to check out the opposition on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

This was very much a moment of these strange days – the first assembly for a virtual school that is in only its second week.

The Oak National Academy is a minor miracle in its own right, put together by the creativity of teachers and offering free online lessons across age ranges and subjects.

His warm-up act, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, (bare wall plus pot plant in background) spoke of how children might be surprised by how much they were missing school and seeing their friends.

“Many of you will be going through really tough times at home,” said the archbishop.

“How do you keep up hope? Patience, positivity and keeping going,” he reassured his virtual assembly.

Source: Read Full Article


Sixth formers: how has coronavirus impacted you?

Coronavirus has impacted all levels of education, from nurseries to final exams. But for many 17 and 18 year olds, the impact has been particularly acute.

These students have had their A Level exams cancelled, and many are likely to be starting university or work with social distancing and remote learning in place. This year group were also the first to experience the new GCSE exam system two years ago.

For many 17 and 18 year olds, key milestones have been permanently altered by coronavirus, with important birthdays, celebratory summer plans, and moving out of home all permanently altered by the pandemic.

We’d like to know how this age group are managing the impact of coronavirus on their education or work.

Share your experiences

You can get in touch by filling in the form below. Your responses are secure as the form is encrypted and only the Guardian has access to your contributions.

One of our journalists will be in contact for publication before we publish, so please do leave contact details.

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

Source: Read Full Article


Denver Public Schools facing pay freeze, school merges amid dire budget during coronavirus

The Denver school district is bracing for a “dire financial situation” next year, in the likely case that a coronavirus-induced economic downturn decimates Colorado education funding.

At a virtual meeting Thursday, the school board discussed drastic options to cut district spending, including freezing teacher pay, merging small schools, and furloughing employees.

“All of these are really tough,” Superintendent Susana Cordova told the board. “I want to make sure as we sit around this metaphoric table that we understand the reason we are having this conversation … is because of the depth of the budget deficit that we anticipate.”

Colorado lawmakers are preparing for a budget hit of as much as $3 billion, a 10% reduction from the budget that Gov. Jared Polis recommended in November, as widespread job losses and business closures related to coronavirus affect sales and income tax projections. Some of the losses could be offset by federal assistance, but school districts around Colorado are likely to lose some of the state revenue that makes up a major share of their budgets.

Denver Public Schools officials predicted the 92,000-student district could lose from $19 million to $61 million in state funding next year. The district operates on an annual budget of more than $1 billion.

Read the full story from our partner at Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit

Source: Read Full Article


Doug Holly obituary

My friend and colleague Doug Holly, who has died aged 89, spent most of his career at the University of Leicester school of education, where he taught others to be humanities teachers and also wrote three books on educational topics.

The son of Norman Holly, a pharmacist, and his wife, Miriam (nee Lewis), Doug was born in Tonypandy and raised in Bridgend, South Wales. A slow starter academically, he failed his 11-plus but later managed to secure a place at Cowbridge grammar school, going on to study at what is now Queen Mary University London, and then at the University of London’s Institute of Education, where he did his teacher training and became president of the student union. It was there that he also met and later married Eileen Darby, who was studying at nearby University College London.

Doug worked as an English teacher in some of London’s first comprehensive schools, including Eltham Green school in the south-east of the city. In 1967 he took up his post at Leicester, where he remained until his retirement in 1992.

During the 1970s Doug had three books published in quick succession: Society, Schools and Humanity (1971), Beyond Curriculum (1973) and Education or Domination? (1974), the last of which contained contributions from some of the UK’s top educationists and sociologists. Together they represented an important body of deeply philosophical and critical writings on education and society.

Doug and Eileen divorced in 1979, and thereafter he lived alone. But he was never lonely – anyone who knew Doug would attest to his sociable personality. He gathered around him a wonderful group of friends, including many of his ex-students, and travelled extensively. Nobody loved a party more than Doug.

He was also active in a range of campaigning organisations, including CND, Campaign Against Arms Trade and Friends of the Earth.

He is survived by the three daughters from his marriage, Sue, Judi and Maggie.

Source: Read Full Article