Displaying items by tag: Education
On 10 September Prayer Alert reported that government ministers were rejecting Scientists recommendations of Covid jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds. You prayed for the Government to change its mind and step in so that pupils got what was needed according to God’s plans for them (Jeremiah 29:11). On 14 September the Government announced that a Covid jab rollout will start in schools in England. Although they are deemed at very low risk from the disease, factors such as disruption to education tipped the balance.
There are no official data on absence due to school anxiety. Many affected pupils are labelled truants, but support groups are being flooded with calls. An education lawyer says the pandemic has made an unprecedented crisis even worse. Children with school anxiety may experience physical symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea and headaches before school or have immobilising anxiety, panic attacks or something that seems like a tantrum. They may even threaten to harm themselves if parents make them go to school, yet their parents can be threatened with fines and court action. Fran Morgan helps families with this problem and said it is not about refusal, a child that won't do something: It is about a child that physically can't. Parent groups are warning of a ‘tsunami’ of crippling school-anxiety cases leading to debilitating absence from education. The education department said it was investing £17m in school mental health.
Universities are urged to provide face-to-face teaching when students return this term. Ex-education secretary Gavin Williamson said students should expect to be taught ‘in-person and alongside other students’, although it would be right to stay online when there's a ‘genuine benefit to using technology’. But he warned university leaders, ‘I do not expect to see online learning used as a cost-cutting measure.’ He said that parents would find it odd if students could go to other social activities but were not allowed back into lecture halls. Record numbers of 18-year-olds will be starting university this autumn, and Mr Williamson, speaking via a video link, said students were craving a ‘return to normality’. Teaching students in-person allows them to benefit from the ‘conversations you have around the margins’, and from the support of other students.
Millions of pupils are returning to classrooms in England and Wales, amid fears of a spike in Covid cases. Most Scottish schools went back in mid-August and since then Scotland’s Covid cases have reached record levels. Pre-term Covid testing is being used to limit infection, but rules on social distancing and face masks have gone. Scientists have warned of a rapid rise in school cases without such measures and experts have not recommended jabs for healthy 12 to 15-year-olds. Ministers want a return to normality, but cases are more than 30 times higher among children compared with last year. Headteachers are hoping for a much smoother term but also want school safety measures to be kept under review. Modified exams have been pledged but there is little detail yet on England's plans. Teachers are asking for more information as they focus on helping pupils recover from the disruption.
The number of Religious Studies A Level exam entries has increased 6.1 percent this year. The subject outperformed other A-level subjects as a whole, with a greater increase than most other humanities subjects. This suggests that candidates are recognising the value of RS for higher education entry and graduate employment, and as an essential life skill. Professor Trevor Cooling said, ‘Religious Studies has maintained its popularity over the past two decades at A Level, where students have a greater say in their subject choice, compared with GCSE when RS may not be offered as an examination course. Young people clearly value the importance of extending their knowledge and understanding of religious and non-religious worldviews at A-level and continue to vote with their feet.’ He urges the Government to ensure it is resourced properly and taught by professionally trained teachers.
Rev Dr Bernard Randall lost his job for disagreeing with LGBT ideology. As Trent College’s chaplain, his job was to ‘be the particular voice and embodiment of Christian values which are at the heart of Trent’s ethos’. Educate and Celebrate, a pro-LGBT 'inclusion' charity, was invited to train school staff. Bernard researched the group and feared the worst but kept an open mind and went to the training. It was as bad as he feared. In line with his school role as 'the voice of Christian values', Bernard raised concerns to management. He was ignored. When a pupil asked him to address the issue in chapel he agreed to preach and encouraged students to respect others' views while ‘not being obliged to accept someone else's ideology’. And the ‘Christian’ school suspended him for gross misconduct. The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Bernard. His tribunal, due in June, was postponed because the school's lawyers didn’t comply with court orders.
Paul Whiteman of the school leaders' union says UK policy on jabs for children should be led by clinicians. Schools should not be responsible for promoting, enforcing, or policing pupil vaccinations. A record 1.13 million children in England were out of school for Covid-19 related reasons towards the end of term. Pupils will return to schools next month, and the Government needs to take every possible step to prevent transmission of the virus amongst people in school communities, no matter what their age. Vaccine decisions for teenagers will be guided by data from other countries. The reason to roll out the vaccine to children is to break the transmission chains in households and in schools for the autumn term, while we know the winter is going to be especially difficult with seasonal respiratory infections. Mr Whiteman recommends everyone over 12 should get the Covid vaccination, which is safe and effective. Israel is vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, feeling that protection from vaccination outweighs the risks.
University students will get ‘advance warning’ if they need to have vaccines before moving to halls of residence, Dominic Raab has said. The foreign secretary said decisions will be taken in September - but he was keen to encourage vaccine uptake. Over 70% of adults have had both jabs, and Mr Raab said ‘We need to close that margin’. Currently, the Government plans to require two jabs to go to nightclubs and other crowded venues in England. The full details of the plans are yet to be seen, but the rule is set to come into force at the end of September. An NHS Covid pass - which you can obtain electronically or as a letter - will be used as proof.
Covid-related pupil absence in England has hit a new high since students returned to school in March. Over 640,000 English pupils were not in school due to Covid last week; only 62,000 were confirmed or suspected Covid cases. Gavin Williamson plans to replace the present bubble system with a new increased testing regime so that pupils would only be sent home if they tested positive. Also the mental health impact of the pandemic could have lasting repercussions for young people leaving education to take their first steps on the career ladder, with over one in four 18- to 24-year-olds believing poor mental health will affect their ability to find a job. Research found that while the UK’s public health crisis has eased and the economy is recovering, over 20% of that age group are still reporting poor mental health. Pray for pupils in higher education to receive proactive support to thrive before any further damage is done.
Some schools became hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Students staged a number of demonstrations. Angry protesters gathered outside a Leeds school to support anti-semitism when the headteacher called the Palestinian flag a ‘call to arms’. During a protest at Clapton Girls’ Academy students sat down and chanted, ‘Free Palestine’, refusing to return to lessons. They did so after teachers removed posters about the Palestinian struggle from the walls of the schools. A north London school removed images of the Palestinian flag from school noticeboards, and told parents that schools were ‘apolitical organisations’ and ‘not to use political messaging to a captive audience’. Manchester’s Loreto College closed after hearing of planned demonstrations. A Jewish teacher in a non-Jewish school was bullied by students and resigned. Twenty-five teachers from a Jewish school quit their trade union to protest against its call for participation in pro-Palestinian rallies.