April 13, 2024


International Student Club UK

How will the new lockdown impact schools, colleges and exams?

Boris Johnson said the government had been doing “everything in our power to keep schools open”.

A-levels and GCSE exams have also been cancelled, with Ofqual and the Department of Education to work out a replacement.

Here we answer some key questions on what the new lockdown will mean for education:

A parent hugs her daughter outside Manor Park School and Nursery in Knutsford, Cheshire
( A parent hugs her daughter outside Manor Park School and Nursery in Knutsford, Cheshire / PA )

– What did Mr Johnson say?

In his Monday evening address, Mr Johnson announced the biggest changes to schooling since the first lockdown nearly 10 months ago as part of harsher restrictions.

He said: “Because we now have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow.”

The plans will be in place until at least February half term.

– What did Education Secretary Gavin Williamson say?

He told the Commons: “While the details will need to be fine-tuned in consultation with Ofqual, the exam boards and teaching representative organisations.

“I can confirm now that I wish to use a form of teacher-assessed grades with training and support provided to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently across the country.”

He said Ofsted will enforce legal requirements for state schools to provide high-quality remote education.

He said: “We expect schools to provide between three and five hours teaching a day, depending on the child’s age.

“If parents feel their child’s school is not providing suitable remote education they should first raise their concerns with the teacher or headteacher and, failing that, report the matter to Ofsted.”

There has been continued debate about whether pupils should be physically in schools since the emergence of a new coronavirus strain in parts of the UK last month.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously said it was “right for education and for public health” to keep schools open, Greenwich council were warned they could face legal action if they did not keep their schools open in December, and on Sunday Mr Johnson said he understood concerns about children returning for the new term, but said he had “no doubt” that schools were safe and that education was a “priority”.

Mr Johnson referred to this on Monday, saying “parents whose children were in school today may reasonably ask why we did not take this decision sooner”, but said Government had been working to keep schools open as “we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances”.

Vulnerable children and those of key workers will still be able to go to colleges, primary and secondary schools, and Mr Johnson said nurseries and other early years settings will remain open in England.

– What about elsewhere in the UK?

In Scotland, nurseries and schools will be closed to most until February, while online learning will be brought in for Wales until January 18.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said the period of remote learning for schoolchildren would be extended with further details expected on Tuesday.

The most recent plan was for primary pupils to be taught remotely for the week from January 4-8, while for secondary school Years 8 to 11, remote learning is due to last for the entire month.

This summer’s GCSE and A-level exams in England have been cancelled.

Mr Williamson told MPs that the Government will put its “trust in teachers, rather than algorithms”.

The Education Secretary acknowledged that exams are the “fairest way” of assessing what a student knows, but said the impact of the pandemic meant it was not possible to hold exams in the summer.

Mr Williamson told MPs that SATs exams will also not be going ahead this year across England.

The latest guidance on the return to universities splits students into two groups.

Those who are on courses in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, education or social work will be returning to campus for the spring term and be tested twice or self-isolate for 10 days.

All other students are being told to remain where they are and will start their term online, with distance learning in place “until at least Mid-February”.