Tag Archives: primary

Tories finally tell PRIMARY schools in LONDON to stay closed. Union calls for rest of England to do the same

Wearing the dunce’s cap again: for Gavin Williamson, the reopening of schools at the height of the Covid crisis isn’t a hard decision – he does what he’s told to do by Boris Johnson. That’s why he has made a fool of himself – and why he is deliberately endangering your children and (if you are a parent) you.

Could anything better illustrate the weakness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative government?

They want to keep the UK’s economy going, despite having done everything possible to let Covid-19 rampage through the population while pretending to restrict it.

So they need to keep schools open, so parents don’t have an excuse to stay at home.

That’s why none of their restrictions/lockdowns since September have included schools.

They seemed ready to keep up this farcical charade into the New Year – even though Covid-19 infection rates have soared and schools are the most common vector – right up until January 1, days before the new school term was due to begin.

Then – at the very last minute once again, meaning parents’ plans have been thrown into chaos for no good reason – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson u-turned, signing off on a plan for all primary schools to remain closed for the time being…

In London.

For clarity, you need to be aware that secondary schools and colleges were already set to be closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term, while primaries in 50 local authorities in London and southern England were also told to remain closed until January 18.

It was only after council leaders in 10 other London boroughs, where Covid transmission rates are high but schools were told to remain open, said they would defy the government and support closures that Williamson agreed to close them all.

He had been backed into a corner. Whatever he did would have led to humiliation so he chose the option that would not result in open defiance.

But his decision only covers those 60 local authority areas in London and the south, prompting education unions – most prominently the National Education Union – to ask:

Why are are children and parents in the rest of England being left vulnerable to Covid?

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, has called on the government to close schools across that country (remember: education is a devolved responsibility so the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland choose whether their schools will open or not).

According to the BBC,

In Wales, there will be “flexibility” at the beginning of term, with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.

In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January. In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.

In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only. A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.

Dr Bousted pointed out that it is impossible to stop children from mixing with each other in large numbers and if just one has the virus, then they all may catch it and transmit it to their families – and out into the community:

She added, on Andrew Castle’s LBC radio talk show, that teachers have a legal right to refuse to work if they think opening schools will create a health risk:

For Gavin Williamson, the situation has now become extremely precarious:

Will Williamson cave in again, or will he stand accused of condemning thousands to catch the virus when the NHS cannot take the strain and fatalities are rising?

And what will happen to Boris Johnson’s precious economy if this irrational stubbornness over schools creates knock-on havoc in business and industry?

Whatever happens, responsibility for the result will lie entirely with Johnson and his Conservative government. But we, the people, will pay the price.

Source: All primary schools in London to remain closed after U-turn | Schools | The Guardian

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Before lockdown is eased any more, hasn’t anybody noticed the Covid-19 spike in reopened SCHOOLS?

Boris Johnson’s decision to reopen schools is killing teachers.

The number of cases of Covid-19 in schools has more or less doubled every week since Johnson forced them to reopen, despite his insistence that they would be “perfectly safe”.

Here’s Schoolsweek:

PHE’s weekly COVID-19 surveillance report, published [June 25], shows the number of “acute respiratory outbreaks” in schools rose from 24 to 44 – 16 more outbreaks than were recorded at hospitals.

An outbreak is defined as two or more people experiencing a similar illness, which appears to be linked to a particular setting.

The 44 cases last week mark a sharp rise since schools reopened. In the week starting June 1, there were 14 acute respiratory outbreaks, then 24 in the following week.

Barring the week before schools opened, the number of suspected outbreaks did not rise above four.

Of the 44 outbreaks recorded last week, 23 tested positive, up from 12 confirmed cases in the previous week.

Overall, the number of new acute respiratory outbreaks rose from 199 to 223. It means schools made up nearly 20 per cent of the outbreaks last week, compared to 12 per cent in the previous week.

The Leicester Mercury reported earlier this week that five schools in the city had to close following confirmed coronavirus cases.

It seems that those who are trying to bring this to public attention are having a had time doing so:

Now, why on Earth would the mainstream media want to suppress it?

Let’s put it in context:

And concentrating on education:

That’s right – 81 teachers have died.

So Boris Johnson has opened up high schools as well as primaries.

Homicidal.

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Dire day for Tories – so why were the pundits hammering Labour?

[Image: BBC]

[Image: BBC]

Own up: How many of you stayed up into the wee hours to watch TV coverage of the local council elections?

If you did, you would have witnessed a curious phenomenon. As the Conservative Party lost seat after seat (at the time of writing they have lost 113 seats altogether) and Labour won seat after seat (currently 125 seats better-off), the pundits sitting around David Dimbleby on BBC1 started telling us this put Labour in the poor position!

This, we were told, was because UKIP’s performance heralded the arrival of “four-party politics” – but does anybody believe that? UKIP won protest votes against the UK Coalition government’s policies at a time when elections to the European Parliament were also taking place. Anti-immigration feelings have been stirred up and people have been led to believe – wrongly – that a vote for UKIP will cut off the flow.

In fact, UKIP did damage Labour in areas like Swindon, where they took working-class votes and enabled the Conservatives to hold that council with a slightly increased majority.

But the ‘Purple Peril’ did far more damage to the Conservatives, with Essex Man and Woman voting very strongly for it.

What does this mean, translated to the Westminster Parliament?

The answer is, it’s difficult to judge. Turnout was only around 36 per cent – half the number who take part in a general election – because faith in democracy is so low. This means any predictions are more likely to be wrong than right.

But if the results are replicated, then the Conservative Party will lose seats to UKIP and it is possible that Labour will become the majority party in a Hung Parliament, and then…

… UKIP will do a coalition deal with the Conservatives because Nigel Farage wants a taste of power, and we’ll end up with five more years of David Cameron.

We know they’re already talking about it because Michael Gove has denied it.

To avoid this, Labour will have to consolidate its gains and show that it can make a real difference where it wins.

A good start would be to cut the harmful social policies in Hammersmith and Fulham, which Labour took from the Tories last night. H&F was once dubbed David Cameron’s favourite council. Why? Well, a recent Guardian article showed that the council was selling off its housing stock at an increasingly accelerated rate, while forcing homeless people into temporary accommodation outside the borough. Ending this wrong-headed nonsense would be a good start.

The new Labour administration could re-examine the planned closure of Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, which won an award from London Mayor Boris Johnson at the end of last year after it “succeeded against the odds in improving pupils’ aspirations and achievements”. According to The Guardian (again), campaigners fighting to save Sulivan say it has been targeted because there are plans to turn the site into a new Free School, part of Michael Gove’s silly pet project that has been haemorrhaging money.

And Labour could halt the Earls Court Project redevelopment scheme, which will knock down elderly residents homes – buildings which are perfectly sound – in order to replace them with “impossibly expensive” flats.

The Guardian (yet again) states: “To the Tories of H&F, though, such things are of no value if there’s more money to be made from tearing them up, clearing them out, knocking them down… The council and its friends do not see what they are doing as wrecking. They see themselves as grand creators. They see those they would push aside not as citizens to be considered but non-believers, blockages, impediments; as inefficiencies that have to be squeezed out.”

Labour would score hugely if it took a stand against this merciless money-driven destruction of a neighbourhood that belongs to ordinary people. Elderly people, in fact. Not only are they vulnerable; they are also voters.

So let Hammersmith & Fulham become the example Labour holds up to the nation: “This is what we can do across the country, if you only give us the chance!”

One thing’s for sure – whatever Labour does there, The Guardian will be watching!

Results are still incoming from the council elections, so undoubtedly the ‘expert’ opinions will change before the end – and then we have the European election results to come on Sunday.

A quick anecdote about that: Yesterday evening Yr Obdt Srvt was at a meeting on a completely different subject (a local festival here in Mid Wales – I’m the organising committee’s secretary). Afterwards I was chatting with a friend about the election when a young man approached us in search of the nearest polling station.

My friend passed on the directions and the man thanked us and started on his way. “Don’t vote UKIP!” shouted my friend.

“I won’t!” was the response.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Iain Duncan Smith’s shirkers and scroungers: Soldiers, teachers and nurses

 

David Cameron, pictured in the Telegraph article: "I want to go on," he says, neglecting to add, "harming the honest, the hard-working, the strivers and the tryers of the UK. I want to go on rewarding the tax-dodgers, the bankers, the exploiters and Parliamentary scroungers. I want to go on deceiving the easily-led into believing that my way is the only way, and duping my Coalition partners into supporting my extreme right-wing policies until I can sling them into the gutter in 2015". Does that seem about right to you?

David Cameron, pictured in the Telegraph article: “I want to go on,” he says, neglecting to add, “harming the honest, the hard-working, the strivers and the tryers of the UK. I want to go on rewarding the tax-dodgers, the bankers, the exploiters and Parliamentary scroungers. I want to go on deceiving the easily-led into believing that my way is the only way, and duping my Coalition partners into supporting my extreme right-wing policies until I can sling them into the gutter in 2015”. Does that seem about right to you?

Apparently ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ doesn’t extend to people in certain professions.

According to a new analysis by The Children’s Society published in The Observer, almost half a million soldiers, teachers and nurses will lose hundreds of pounds every year when the Coalition’s latest benefit cut comes into force.

The cap of one per cent on benefit and tax credits upratings over the next three years means up to 40,000 soldiers will be worse-off: A second lieutenant in the army with three children, earning £470 a week and whose wife does not work will lose £552 per year.

Around 150,000 primary and nursery school teachers will lose out: A couple with two children where the sole earner is a primary school teacher earning £600 per week will lose £424.

But the majority of losers in the professions will be nurses – 300,000 of them. A lone-parent nurse with two children, earning the profession’s average of £530 per week, will lose £424 per year.

For a government that likes to state “We love the NHS”, the Coalition seems to really enjoy attacking nurses and trying to cover it up. By December 13 last year, 7,134 nursing posts had been lost since the Coalition came into power, 943 in the previous month alone. But when the issue was raised in Parliamentary debate, Health Secretary and gynaecological slang-term Jeremy Hunt did his level best to avoid giving a straight response. “The nurse to bed ratio has gone up. The average bed is getting an extra two hours of nursing care, per week, than under Labour.” That didn’t tell us how many nurses had lost their jobs. So we got: “The number of clinical staff in the NHS has gone up and not down. I don’t want to micro-manage every hospital in the country and tell them how many doctors and how many nurses.”

Perhaps there’s some deep-seated childhood trauma affected all the members of the Coalition government, that makes them want to persecute nurses and then try to cover it up? Whatever the case, I’m sure the facts would form the skeleton of a terrific little crime thriller.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that the government will be debating an increase of one per cent in benefits this year. With inflation at 2.7 or 3.2 per cent, depending on which system you use, that’s a real-terms cut of two per cent every year for the next three years.

I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that these figures were compiled by The Children’s Society, meaning they relate only to working parents. The one per cent cap on benefit rises will hit single working people as well – we just don’t have the figures for them yet.

The figures make a nonsense of Iain Duncan Smith’s increasingly desperate claims that his policy of cuts and persecution to achieve lower take-up of welfare benefits is fair.

The Tories have now alienated working people and those on benefits. Who’s next, do you think? I reckon pensioners had better prepare for the worst!

Remember last week, when he trotted out a roll of fabricated figures to make it seem that the tax credit system had run out of control under Labour (tax credits are among the benefits to be capped at one per cent)? It turns out that all his figures were wrong, with his claims about fraud – which stands at less than one per cent of total claims – spectacularly inaccurate.

How about the very next day, when he was dribbling about the relative percentage rises in Jobseekers’ Allowance and private sector salaries, claiming that the unemployed were getting a far better deal than workers – only to be rebuffed when we all checked how much this was in real money, found out that workers were still making far more (although not enough – remember many employers pay so little that people working full-time still have to claim state benefits, so that’s a subsidy for private companies, being paid out of our taxes). The amount paid in benefits as a proportion of average wages has stayed the same, as it should. The Work and Pensions Secretary is hell-bent on breaking that link in order to inflict real harm on Britain’s poorest.

Does anybody remember the Tory slogan “Broken Britain”? What they didn’t tell us was that they were the ones who wanted to break us!

And now David Cameron has told the Telegraph he wants to be Prime Minister for another full term, from 2015 to 2020. If he manages that feat, he will no doubt face pressure from some of his own cabinet members to inflict further harm on those receiving benefits.

For example, a group of 70 Tory MPs including Michael Gove and David Willetts have published an agenda of policies that one minister has already – according to the Torygraph – described as a “blueprint” for the party’s next general election manifesto.

It includes plans to lengthen the school day “to help working parents” – how do you like that, all you teachers who are losing benefits this year? You can rest assured that your pay won’t increase to cover the extra hours!

And it calls for benefits to be cut for people who live in the North, and other parts of the country where the cost of living is lower. They love regional pay, don’t they? And they WILL drive it through, no matter how much of the population oppose it!

For a representative selection of citizens’ opinions about this, I suggest you visit the MSN news site’s version of this story where (when I looked last night) the Comment column was unanimously opposed to Cameron continuing. That’s something like 20-odd pages of people demanding that he be ousted at the first opportunity.

It did my heart good to see that.

The sad truth is that none of the above will change the result of the debate and vote on benefits uprating, due to take place in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

As long as the Tories have the support of Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, they have a majority and can vote through any ludicrous and harmful policies they please.

The only thing I can suggest is that you all email your MPs in advance of the debate and put pressure on them to do the right thing – or account for their decision if they vote with the government – especially if you live in the North, or in rural areas!

As ever, you can find your MP’s contact details here: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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