Category Archives: Education

If this doesn’t convince you the Tories are doing their best to kill us all, what will?

No face masks, no testing: school halls will soon be as packed as this, again. And with no demand for mandatory masks and testing, they’ll soon be chock-full of Covid-19 too.

Tory schools minister Nick Gibb has decided that face masks and asymptomatic Covid-19 testing with be optional in schools.

You know what this means. Face masks are supposed to protect other people if we have the virus – and the ones who refuse to wear them will be the contagious idiots.

The same applies to asymptomatic testing. They’ll say, “I don’t feel bad! Why should I have a swab up my nose?” And then they’ll infect your sons and daughters, you, and everyone you know.

Charming.

And all made possible by the damnfool Tories who’ve made such a pig’s ear of the Covid crisis so far.

We are saying it is not mandatory for schools to have masks in classrooms but it is highly recommended because we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission in the school

said Gibb.

Of course we can’t make it [asymptomatic testing] mandatory … but we just hope that most parents will see the wisdom of testing their children twice a week.

It is as though the Tories are trying to make it seem they are doing all they can to minimise the risk of infection – while actually doing all they can to increase it.

Isn’t it?

Source: Face coverings in secondary schools will not be compulsory, says minister | The Canary

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No vaccination for teachers before schools go back – because it’s too much like hard work

The government has said it will not prioritise teachers (or police officers) in the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout because it will involve doing some work.

The government has been under pressure to give priority in phase two to key workers, such as teachers or police officers, irrespective of their age.

But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has stated it is better to stick to vaccination in order of age groups (oldest to youngest).

The JCVI said targeting occupational groups by going through employee lists would be more complex to deliver than simply running through a list of age groups.

It said this could slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some more vulnerable people, at higher risk unvaccinated for longer.

If schools go back, who will be more vulnerable than teachers? The really high risk groups have already had their jabs.

Bizarrely,

Professor Wei Shen Lim, the Covid chair for the JCVI, said the the goal of vaccinations was to stop people from dying.

We’ll see how that looks a few weeks after schools reopen on March 8, shall we?

It seems incredible, that pupils, parents and teachers will all be put at risk – not to mention all their families, friends and colleagues – because the people behind the vaccination programme can’t be bothered to compile the necessary lists.

Source: Under-50s Will Be Vaccinated Based On Age Not Occupation | HuffPost UK

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Schoolkids know the score: reopening all schools in England will infect the nation with Covid-19

“Perfectly safe”: this photo was taken on a school staircase after Boris Johnson ruled that it was “perfectly safe” for children to go back there in September – no social distancing, no PPE… not safe at all. Now he is planning to do it all again, with infection rates nearly seven times higher than when this image was made.

Boris Johnson loves announcing big plans without giving us the facts and figures behind them, and he has done it again with school reopening.

How humiliating for him that it has been up to school pupil Jamal Elaheebocus to explain that when schools were recklessly reopened in June last year, one in 1,100 people were infected with Covid-19. When they were recklessly reopened in September, this had fallen to one in 2,000.

In mid-February, the infection rate was one in 115 people. It is hoped this will have fallen to one in 300 but that is nearly seven times more than in September last year – and look how that turned out!

Jamal reminds us of a few more uncomfortable truths:

the prevalence of the virus in communities remains high. As Johnson himself admitted on January 4, schools are vectors of transmission.

To any of us working or studying in schools, the reasons why schools are hotspots for infection are obvious.

Fitting thirty students and a teacher in a classroom makes social distancing impossible, overcrowded buildings means that several year groups who are separate bubbles then mix together.

Students are then packed on buses and trains to get home, spreading infection not only among themselves but among the wider public as well.

The latest data from Imperial’s React programme showed that 5 to 12 year olds had the second highest infection rate of any age group. Given this, there is no doubt that schools will increase the infection rate again. The difference this time is that infection rates will be much higher.

While the vaccine may help limit the rise in infection to an extent, infection rates will undoubtedly increase. This is a reckless gamble just to get children into schools for three weeks before Easter holidays.

Yes.

So why is Johnson doing it?

This was inevitable, thanks to the pressure from the mainstream media and Keir Starmer.

How low Labour has sunk! Its leader is now counted among those responsible for inflicting an inevitable increase in Covid-19 infections on the UK – yet again. People will die because Starmer did this.

Yes, some of the arguments in favour of re-opening schools have influence – but only because prolonged closures have placed pupils at the mercy of the Tories’ neoliberal system – one that Starmer wholeheartedly supports.

The combined incompetence of the government and the cruelty of the neoliberal system has meant many kids have missed out on free school meals, families are struggling to cope in overcrowded homes and kids have not been able to access online learning because of lack of access to a laptop or good broadband.

Lockdown has been made so difficult for school pupils because of the government’s decision to continue to punish the poorest in society. It is a disgrace that the Tories and the right-wing media are attempting to manipulate the stress and hardship and use it to back up their reckless campaign to open up society and let the virus run rampage.

It is a disgrace.

And the Tories’ adherence to the neoliberal system that demands minimal investment for maximum return (to the very, very rich) means that the reopening will be done on the cheap.

Jamal proposes a series of measures to make schools safe – or at least safer. None of them have been supported – or even mentioned – by Boris Johnson because they cost money.

Teachers should be prioritised for the vaccine since they will be mixing with such a large number of people. This should have been done months ago and as more and more of the clinically vulnerable and elderly are vaccinated, there is no reason not to now prioritise teachers.

There should also be plans to repurpose public buildings as classrooms or put money into new buildings on school sites to facilitate social distancing in classrooms and allow for proper separation of year group bubbles.

Supply teachers and newly-qualified teachers who are not employed can be utilised to allow for smaller class sizes and more social distancing.

The vaccine is not the cure-all that Johnson and his cronies have claimed. It wont protect you as fully as you think, and it won’t protect as many people as you think.

And, of course, it has only been applied to a minority of the population – on a first-dose basis.

How sad that Johnson is so keen to prolong the UK’s Covid-19 agony, just to please his backbenchers, the baying hounds of the mass media… and Keir Starmer.

Source: A school student speaks: 8 March ‘big bang’ reopening just isn’t safe – Counterfire

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Starmer’s attitude to schools reminds us his only purpose is to block opposition to the Tories

Suck up: Johnson can keep smiling because he’s got little blue boy Keir Starmer backing him from the Labour Parliamentary benches.

Many may consider that Keir Starmer is a traitor to the people of the UK after his latest display of support for the government he is supposed to oppose.

Starmer has stated – publicly, for all to hear – that he supports Boris Johnson’s decision to reopen all English schools and damn the science.

That means he has set himself against the education-based organisations that have called for a phased reopening of schools – and only if it is supported by scientific evidence.

He thinks he knows better than the experts.

He said he did not support mooted industrial action over safety concerns, after nine teaching unions warned it would be “reckless” to open schools at all once on 8 March.

Sir Keir expressed concerns that children were falling behind, having previously urged the government to open schools as quickly as possible.

Asked whether teachers could be drafted in during the summer to help children catch up, he said: “That may be possible.

“Again, schools staff have been working around the clock. Remember, this time last year they were preparing to work through the Easter break and they’ll probably end up doing that again.

“So they do need a break. There needs to be a long-term plan to catch-up because the attainment gap has got bigger over this pandemic – it was bad enough before it.

“We need a long-term plan for catch-up, but we do need to give credit to teachers and school staff. We need to think of how we do catch-up and close the attainment gap.”

Will Starmer be paying school staff for the extra hours they’ll be asked to work? Will he be compensating them for the holiday time they will lose?

Just because schools haven’t been open, that doesn’t mean staff have not been working, remember!

And his determination to ignore warnings by scientists puts him on the same level as Michael Gove, who famously extolled the virtues of ignorance in the run-up to Brexit (and now we can all see how that is turning out).

Starmer is not a Labour politician in any meaningful way.

He is an infiltrator in the Labour Party, along with all those who support him (including paid staff; some of us knew that from the backstabbing that happened during the so-called “anti-Semitism” witch-hunt when Jeremy Corbyn was leader).

His purpose seems clear: to prevent Her Majesty’s Opposition from being run by anybody who might ever oppose the Tories.

And he is succeeding.

Who could possibly support a Labour Party that does nothing but suck up to the worst prime minister, and the worst government, the UK has ever had.

Source: Keir Starmer opposes strike action by teachers and says they may have to work during holidays | The Independent

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Minister for VACCINES in cock-up over vaccination dates while trying to justify reopening schools

Nadhim Zahawi: waving the flag and fuddling the dates.

Should we give Nadhim Zahawi the benefit of the doubt for this faux-pas? No!

If it was an honest mistake, we should remind ourselves that Diane Abbott was given no quarter for making one, even after it was revealed that she had been trying to cope with an illness at the time.

You can still see right-wing commenters on the social media referring to it at periodic intervals, and congratulating themselves on their (small) wit for doing it.

Zahawi appears to have no such excuse for this:

He quite clearly does assert that the Conservative government has calculated that it should be safe to open schools on March 8 because that is three weeks after mid-April, when everybody aged over 50 is expected to have been vaccinated.

Firstly, it is entirely arbitrary to use the vaccination of the over-50s as a trigger for the reopening of schools. Why not over-40s? Over-30s? Or indeed, over-20s? All are just as likely to be affected.

Secondly – and I come to this last because it’s a biggie! – March 8 is not three weeks after mid-April. That would be May 8. March 8 is around five weeks before mid-April.

So by his own calculations, the minister for Covid-19 vaccination is telling is that his government is planning to reopen schools an entire two months prematurely.

I look forward to hearing his justification for the deaths that will be triggered by this wrong-headed decision to open all schools, too early, rather than experiment with a phased reopening, increasing as evidence recommends – as the other countries of the UK are doing.

Although, no doubt, it will be equally incomprehensible.

Boris Johnson may have an opportunity to correct this cock-up when he officially announces his “roadmap out of lockdown” later today (if that is still going ahead).

That’s if our complicit Tory media remember they have a responsibility to grill him about it.

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Johnson releases advance details of ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. He’ll kill thousands more

Boris Johnson: if he tries to tell you he’s following the science by reopening all English schools at once on March 8, this is the message you need to remember.

Boris Johnson has released details of his four-test “roadmap” out of lockdown – via the media, as has become his usual cowardly method.

It is now clear that Johnson will continue habitually to release details of any plans that may be controversial through his media cronies, to provide him with advance warning if any parts of them prove unpopular.

He is a coward – as bad in his way as Keir ‘focus group’ Starmer.

Here are some details:

The “rule of six” is expected to be reintroduced for outdoor gatherings from March 29. Outdoor sports facilities are expected to be allowed to open that day, and organised outdoor sport will be permitted to return.

In April, it is hoped that domestic self-catering holidays will be allowed and that gyms, hairdressers, and non-essential shops will be able to open.

Mr Johnson’s “roadmap” will include four tests which must all be met before the next step can go ahead. They are:

  • That the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • That evidence shows jabs are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • That infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which puts unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • That the Government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern

The plan will be rolled out across the country at the same time with no return to regional tiers.

But I want to focus on the very first element in Johnson’s ‘re-opening’ plan:

Initially it is understood England’s schools will all be re-opened on March 8.

It seems Johnson is not only ignoring the science in his determination to do this, but also defying nine education organisations: the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite.

In a joint statement, they said:

The science around the role that schools play in the overall rate of transmission is uncertain. Scientists have expressed different views on this point. What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population. This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step.

These factors necessitate a cautious approach with wider school and college opening phased over a period of time. This is the approach being taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It allows public health experts to assess the impact of the first phase before moving to the next.

We are increasingly concerned that … to order a full return of all pupils on Monday 8 March in England … would seem a reckless course of action.

It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education, and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown.

We therefore urge the Prime Minister to commit to 8 March only if the scientific evidence is absolutely clear that this is safe, and at that point go no further than a phased return of children and young people with sufficient time to assess the impact before moving to the next phase.

We see in Johnson’s plans no indication that his decision to reopen all English schools on March 8 has any basis in science.

His demand that there will be no phased return but all school pupils will go back at once is a slap in the face for the professionals who wanted a phased return – and sheer ignorance when compared with the policies of other UK countries.

It seems clear that this weakest of UK prime ministers has caved in to pressure from his backbenchers and big business.

He may get away with it, if the vaccination programme has reached enough people by March 8 and proves as effective as some claims state after the first jab.

But I fear that he is provoking yet another spike in infections and will cause thousands more deaths.

And even if it does happen, he’ll get away with it.

He may be the weakest prime minister the UK has ever had, but he’s still above the law that oppresses you and me.

Source: Boris Johnson’s four-test ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown including ‘new rule of six’ – Mirror Online

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Why have UK university students had to waste £1 BILLION on digs they couldn’t use?

Rent strike: students are permanently penniless. When you see how much this year’s alumni have had to pay – for NOTHING – you’ll understand why they’re raging.

Those Tories really are selective about who they help with the costs of Covid-19, aren’t they?

I remember being a student. Most of the time, I hardly had two pennies to rub together. The rented accommodation available to us was – mostly – diabolical. And expensive.

One place was damp. It gave me bronchitis.

But at least I got to live in it!

Since the Covid crisis started, according to a survey, the

average student has so far paid £1,621 in rent for unrefunded empty rooms.

In total, according to advice website Save the Student,

university students have wasted nearly £1bn on empty rooms in flat shares and halls of residence that they have been unable to use because of coronavirus restrictions this academic year.

The website estimates rents are so high that they take up three-quarters of their maintenance loans at an average of £146 per week, so it’s no wonder that

Students’ anger with high rents… boiled over on UK campuses this term as students launched the largest rent strike in 40 years.

There has been a patchy response from universities, private halls of residence and landlords, with some refusing discounts while others have offered full rebates.

I have a lot of sympathy for the universities, and for the landlords – as well as for the students themselves.

It is unfair for the accommodation providers to foot the bill for thousands of empty rooms when the situation was thrust on them by the government – albeit admittedly in response to a nationwide pandemic.

It just happens to be even more unfair for them to demand that students pay the bill, rather than the government. This is loaned money, remember – they have to pay it back, plus interest, over a period of decades to come.

Businesses – especially the bigger ones – have received huge subsidies, and employees have had 80 per cent of their wages paid by a government “furlough” scheme. Why weren’t students added to that, at the very least?

The Guardian story tells us the government has provided students with £70 million in hardship funding, which seems to fall quite a long way short of what they’ve had to shell out.

Considering the billions given to Tory cronies and their – let’s be honest – fake firms for nonexistent or inadequate Covid-related services, this is an insult to the next generation of the UK’s movers and shakers.

Let’s hope they remember it.

Source: UK university students wasted £1bn in a year on empty accommodation | Student housing | The Guardian

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After another SERIES of ‘free school meals’ scandals, Rashford demands overhaul of the whole system

Marcus Rashford: he wins campaigns against Boris Johnson’s government (unlike Keir Starmer’s Labour Party) so it is welcome that he is spearheading this call for an all-encompassing review of government policy on child food poverty.

After the second ‘Free School Meals’ scandal in three days, This Writer feels sure I was among many people who wondered why Marcus Rashford – now generally accepted as the Opposition to the Tory government in such matters – had not spoken up.

Now we know.

Rashford, who was instrumental in forcing the government to provide free school meals during Covid-19 lockdowns and during holidays – including Christmas – when the Tories wanted children to starve, has not confined himself to a single FSM-related issue.

Instead he has joined with celebrity chefs and campaigners to demand a full review of Tory policy on child food poverty which they rightly say is not fit for purpose.

They have written a letter to Boris Johnson and his trained-ape-serving-as-Education-Secretary, Gavin Williamson, here:

It deserves to be reproduced in full:

 We are writing to you to express our concern that the issue of Free School Meals risks once again becoming divisive, and to encourage the Government to undertake an urgent comprehensive review of Free School Meal policy to reform the system for the longer term. We are ready and willing to support your Government in whatever way we can to make this review a reality and to help develop a set of recommendations that everyone can support. It is only by working together that we end child food poverty.

We know that all political parties agree on the outcome that we are aiming for – ensuring that all children have access to enough health, good-quality food to fulfil their potential. Last Autumn, the Government announced several very positive new measures to help combat child hunger, and we strongly welcomed those announcements. This week, we were heartened to see the Department for Education’s swift response to reports of inadequate Free School Meal food parcels being provided by private companies. The robustness of the message from you and the Secretary of State on this issue was very welcome.

I can only assume the last two sentences of this paragraph were included to butter Johnson up, as most of the nation was horrified that Johnson had contracted out responsibility to provide £30 food parcels to private, profit-making firms who did what came naturally – skimmed off five-sixths of the cash in profit and provided £5 worth of food to cover children’s meals for 10 days.

Some Tories even went on the record to say they couldn’t understand the fuss as this was only supposed to provide for a single meal in the day – without realising that their right-wing policies have stamped on families so hard that this may be the only food those children see in a day.

Despite these positive commitments, we strongly feel that now (following the series of problems which have arisen over school food vouchers, holiday provision and food parcels since the start of the pandemic) is the right moment for you to step back and review the policy in more depth. The signatories to this letter urge the Government to conduct an urgent comprehensive review into Free School Meal policy across the UK to provide recommendations for the next Spending Review.

This would allow the Government to provide strong national leadership on children’s food so that our nation’s most disadvantaged children and their families, already disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, don’t continue to bear the brunt. In the first lockdown (March-August), 2.3 million children experienced food insecurity and during the 2020 summer holidays 850,000 children reported that they or their families visited a food bank. Free School Meals are a very important part of the safety net that protects children from impoverished families from hunger and poor nutrition.

We believe the review should be debated in Parliament and published before the 2021 summer holidays. The process will require collaboration from politicians in all the devolved nations with responsibility for school food in their regions, and must involve close consultation with children and young people, as well as teachers, charities, NGOs, frontline catering staff and school meals service providers. It should draw on evidence of food insecurity and health inequalities. We stand ready to provide our full support to the review process.

And experience tells us that the only people Boris Johnson’s government likes to consult are those who are likely to agree with what he wants to do; dissenting voices are ignored. This will make it very difficult for the Tories to devise a strategy that works for any group wider than the Conservative government of Boris Johnson.

We recommend that its scope include:

1. The current eligibility thresholds for Free School Meals. The Government should seek to ensure disadvantaged children are not excluded from Free School Meal eligibility (in line with National Food Strategy recommendations) and to work with the Devolved Administrations to eliminate disparities between the nations. Current estimates show 2 in 5 UK children under the poverty line are missing out. The ongoing eligibility for children from No Recourse to Public Funds should be address explicitly.

2. How funding for Free School Meals can deliver the biggest nutritional and educational impact, supporting children’s learning and well-being throughout the school day and during the school holidays (including breakfast provision and the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme). This should include whether the current allowance for Free School Meals is adequate and whether funding for national breakfasts adequately covers all who would benefit from access to provision.

3. How schools can be supported to deliver the best quality school meals which adhere to school food standards and which ensure the poorest children receive the best possible offer. This should include introducing mandatory monitoring and evaluation on an ongoing basis of Free School Meal take-up, the quality/nutritional adequacy of meals, and examining how the financial transparency of the current system can be improved.

4. What we have learned from Covid-19 and its impact on children in low-income families and the implications of this for school food policy for the next 5 years, as the country recovers.

5. Ensuring that existing school food programmes (such as Free School Meals, holiday provision and breakfast provision) eliminate experiences of stigma for the poorest students. Review the impact that Universal Infant Free School Meals has had on stigma, health, and education.

6. The role of family income (wages and benefits) in enabling families to afford quality food in and outside of school time and during the holidays with choice and dignity.

The Tory response to this should be interesting. Tories habitually say families should be able to provide for their own children, despite the fact that their own policies have squeezed family incomes beyond breaking-point. It’s no good saying people should be able to afford things when you are responsible for ensuring that they can’t!

This review would provide the Government with the opportunity to future-proof its policy on school food, and to carefully consider how best to support low-income children and families in the aftermath of the pandemic. It would also demonstrate the Government’s commitment to tackling child food poverty in the longer term and be a significant step towards a comprehensive long-term plan.

I foresee difficulties.

Already the Welsh Government – which is run by the Labour Party – has taken to Twitter to let people in Wales know that the problems created by the Tories in England do not affect them:

The Tories are hardly going to want to work with organisations that are merrily scoring points off them.

School food is essential in supporting the health and learning of our most disadvantaged children. Now, at a time when children have missed months of in-school learning and the pandemic has reminded us of the importance of our health, this is a vital next step.

The letter is signed by Rashford, Jamie Oliver, Emma Thompson, Tom Kerridge and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and by representatives of Food Foundation, School Food Matters, Chefs in Schools, the Children Society, Children’s Food Campaign, Children’s First Alliance, Feeding Britain, Soil Association, The Bread and Butter Thing, Mayor’s Fund for London, The School Food People, Meals & More, Poverty and Inequality Commission, Independent Food Aid Network UK, Impact on Urban Health, The Fair Education Alliance, the WI, ASSIST FM, Magic Breakfast, Turn2Us, Buttle UK, Greater Manchester Poverty Action, End Child Poverty Coalition, TACT, Scottish Qut of School Care Network, Khulisa UK, The Mighty Creatives, The Equality Trust, One Parent Families Scotland, End Furniture Poverty, Family Action, USDAW, Child Poverty Action Group, Biteback 2030, Just Fair, Rose Hill & Donnington Advice Centre, Oxford, Co-Op Retail, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, The British Psychological Society, British Association of Social Workers, Association of School and College Leaders, King’s Cross Academy, Academies Enterprise Trust, Cabot Learning Federation, Co-op Academies Trust, The Shared Learning Trust, The Eden Academy Trust, LDBS Academies Trusts, National Governance Association, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and Teach First.

I include the whole list because I think it is important for us to understand the sheer number of organisations that now exist to address children’s food poverty – or have to address it as part of their wider activities.

This has only become such a major issue because the Conservatives have forced so many families into food poverty.

So it seems worthwhile to raise the issue of whether we should stop allowing Conservative Party members to form governments that inflict such misery, such starvation, on so many millions of us, just so a tiny minority can live in the kind of luxury that most of us cannot even imagine.

There’s only one question left to ask:

Why is Rashford doing the Labour Party’s job? If Jeremy Corbyn was still party leader, Labour would be all over this.

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After ‘hamper’ fiasco, Tories want to deny kids free school meals during half term week. But what are they hiding with all this noise?

Scandal: only two days ago, the Tory government came under attack for letting an outsourcing company skim £25 in profit from the cost of a £30 food hamper FOR CHILDREN. Now the Tories are trying to confuse parents by forcing them to apply to their local council for food vouchers over half term week. Is it all a big distraction from something else they don’t want us to see?

Isn’t it incredible?

Days after they were found to have been starving children by outsourcing £30 ‘free school meal’ hampers to a company that provided only £5 worth of food and kept the other £25 to itself, the Conservative government has announced a plan to starve schoolkids during half term week.

They say they won’t allow schools to provide free meals to pupils who usually get them; instead, local councils have been given responsibility to provide food under the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

This scheme provided £170 million to councils in December. Under it, families have to apply to their local council for help, and will get a £15 voucher for each qualifying child.

It seems a deliberate attempt to cause confusion by switching schemes just when families need clarity.

And how much of that £170m fund has been spent already? It’s not a lot, divided across the whole of England (other UK countries have equivalent schemes, according to the government).

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned that switching schemes meant “yet more disruption to free schools meals could lie ahead in half term”.

He said that rather than allowing schools to carry on providing food it would cause an “unnecessary logistical nightmare”.

He said ministers should now “hang their heads in shame” for threatening more “chaos and confusion” over providing food.

“These are battles which should not have to be repeatedly fought,” said Mr Courtney.

But they are.

And both the media and the public tend to focus on recurring issues like this, to the exclusion of other matters happening at the time.

School meals don’t cost a huge amount – in government terms – and it won’t cause too much upset if the Tories are forced to capitulate again.

So This Writer is left to ask what else is happening that the Tories don’t want us to know?

Source: Row over half term free school meals plan – BBC News

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#FreeSchoolMeals scandal: ‘£30’ shopping basket provides just ‘£5’ of food because the Tories outsourced provision

Let’s not beat around the bush: your lovable Conservative government led by cuddly Boris Johnson deliberately starved schoolchildren by outsourcing free school meals to a very expensive company – because it was part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’.

The government had promised to provide £30 to feed children for periods lasting 10 days.

But rather than giving vouchers to parents so they could buy the food themselves, or even tasking local authorities to do it, the Department for Education outsourced the job to private, profit-making firms.

One of these firms is called Chartwells. It seems it won the contract as part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’ – it is part of the food service giant Compass Group whose former chairman, Paul Walsh, was once a member of David Cameron’s business advisory group.

Instead of putting all £30 into food hampers for hungry children, it seems Chartwells provided just £5.22 worth of food and kept the remaining £24.78 as profit.

Food parcels have been brought in to replace £30 vouchers given to parents to spend in supermarkets as schools close for remote learning. But one mum valued the contents of her parcel at no more than £5.22, if bought from Asda.

She was given two jacket potatoes, a can of beans, eight single cheese slices, a loaf of bread, two carrots, three apples, two Soreen Malt Lunchbox Loaves, three Frubes, some pasta and one tomato.

Chartwells has protested that it followed Department for Education guidelines – which throws the blame back towards the Tories – but has also admitted that details of the contents of its hampers do not conform with its own specifications.

Whichever way you slice it, someone has been creaming cash from this scheme and allowing children to starve – and the only reason they’ve managed it is because of the Tory obsession with privatisation.

It is a ridiculous state of affairs. Everybody in the Tory government, from Johnson down, knows that giving a contract to a private company means it will keep some of the cash for itself.

So a claim to be providing £30 to feed children is a lie. They were always providing £30 to their friends in food companies.

Sadly, many of the parents whose children are now being forced to starve on pennies-worth of food per day actually voted for this treatment in December 2019.

The question has to be asked: why weren’t vouchers provided to parents?

Was it because another Tory – Ben Bradley – put out a false claim that they would squander the money on “crack dens” and “brothels”, even though the vouchers that existed at the time specifically prohibited their use for such purposes?

It only takes a piece of fake news like this from one influential source to influence large numbers of people into believing the lie, and I wonder whether this was what enabled the Tory government to starve children in the way it has.

Think of it this way: Isn’t it odd that many people get outraged at the (faked) possibility of someone spending a fraction of a food voucher on alcohol (more likely than Bradley’s choices but still impossible) – but don’t bat an eyelid when private firms take 80 per cent of food vouchers for their own profits?

Perhaps the most pertinent comment on this whole shabby affair is the following:

Sadly, it would have been necessary for millions of people to have voted a different way in 2019 for that to have happened. And something stopped them:

Source: Free school meals firm with Tory links shamed over £30 shopping basket | Metro News

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