The government under Covid’s about-face on education in England


Ministers also made a number of U-turns, from tests to free school meals.

The declaration that all elementary schools in London will close next week is the latest in a series of U-turns on education by the government since the pandemic started.

The original government proposal called for the reopening of schools in the City of London and Kingston, although schools would remain closed in 22 other London boroughs.

After the heads of nine London authorities wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson demanding that their primary schools remain closed to all but disadvantaged children and those whose parents are key staff, ministers changed course.

Legal action was planned by many municipal councils to keep their elementary schools closed.

Here are some of the other educational oversights of the government:
Aug. 25: In colleges, face masks.
Just days before reopening classes, the policy of not requiring children to wear face masks in school was changed when the Department of Education confirmed that in areas with coronavirus limits, staff and students in 7th grade and above would wear face masks in hallways and common areas in schools.

Williamson had previously insisted that the wearing of facial coverings would not require covid protective measures in place in schools. The move came following pressure from teachers across the nation urging their use, and following the announcement by Scotland that students of secondary school should wear masks in communal areas.

August 17: Results for A-level and GCSE.
After A-level grades were downgraded by a controversial algorithm developed by the Office of Qualifications and Exams Control, the government was forced to respond, resulting in approximately 40 percent of awarded grades being lower than expected by students, parents and teachers. Earlier, Williamson had defended the system as stable and said the system would have “no about-face, no change”

June 16: Coupons for School Lunch
After a movement led by Marcus Rashford, the government reversed its decision not to extend the children’s school meal voucher scheme until the summer holidays. The move came 24 hours after No. 10 denied the footballer’s offer to continue paying over the summer holidays for the £ 15-a-week meal vouchers.

On June 16, Cabinet Secretary Grant Shapps said that free school meals would not usually be extended to summer time, but a few hours later, No 10 backed down and said it would expand the service.

June 9: Reopening of Schools.
In May, Williamson announced plans to return to classes for all primary school children in England for at least four weeks before the summer holidays. However, he admitted on June 9 that it would not be possible to completely open elementary school because the 2-meter spacing requirement would make it too complicated.


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