Tag Archives: school

#Tory plans for #Covid19 have fallen into incoherence. Can anybody #makeitmakesense?

Boris Johnson says the UK’s position with regard to Covid-19 is “incomparably better” than it was this time last year.

I don’t get it, so I’m willing to bet that you don’t either.

Covid-19 infections in the UK have skyrocketed over the Christmas period – and that’s just those we know about!

At the time of writing, the number of new cases in England and Scotland stood at 157, 758 on January 3. Those for Wales and Northern Ireland were not included in the figures from Public Health England.

And there is a shortage of test kits, meaning the figures available to us are likely to represent only a fraction of the real total.

Only 42 deaths have been recorded. Again, these are likely to be a fraction of the real total, but the figure is one of the best This Writer has seen in months.

The number of hospitalisations is not listed on any of the press releases I’ve seen, but it likely to be around 9-10,000.  That’s about 50 per cent more than the previous week, indicating that while the Omicron variant may not kill people, it will certainly put them in hospital, tying up NHS resources.

The government’s response? Revive Nightingale hospitals.

That’s right. Apparently eight new Nightingales are being set up in car parks across the UK, aiming to provide 4,000 extra beds for Covid-19 patients.

Sadly, there are no extra NHS staff available to run these so-called hospitals. The NHS is overstretched, just staffing the genuine hospitals it has. Boris Johnson’s claim to be recruiting 50,000 new nurses had the same validity as most of his pronouncements (in other words, none at all) and Sajid Javid’s appeal for former healthcare professionals to help out has fallen on deaf ears.

It seems both men are hoping that nobody will realise that a tent in a car park without hospital staff isn’t a hospital; it’s just a tent – in a car park.

Heaven help you if you end up being sent there.

While all this was going on, the government assured everybody in England that it was perfectly safe to enjoy New Year parties – without any health protection measures at all. This was probably motivated by fear of being shamed again if evidence comes to light of more Downing Street parties at a time when people were not allowed to enjoy themselves, and hope that the inevitable increase in Covid cases comes as those with other causes start to tail off.

Oh, and the shortage of NHS staff is not being addressed at all. In fact, the Tories have refused to provide the FFP2 or FFP3 face masks that will protect them from being infected by their patients, meaning he is deliberately directing the NHS towards what could be its worst ever winter crisis.

Then there’s the question of schools.

The new term begins on January 4 (which could be today, depending on when you’re reading this), with only one health protection measure in place: secondary pupils must wear masks.

There is no plan to address the acute shortage of teachers caused by the government’s refusal to impose protections on their health after the Omicron variant arrived in the UK.

This means classes – and indeed entire schools – are likely to close this month.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has told head teachers to consider merging classes (to ensure that pupils who may not be infected have a chance to catch Covid from those who are?) or sending groups of pupils home if staff absences reach critical levels.

This suggests that his own appeal for former teachers to volunteer to help has fallen on the same stony ground as his colleague Javid’s did within the NHS. And quite right, too – retired staff are in the Covid-19 danger zone and must consider their own safety first.

So government policy is another massive contradiction. Health protection measures are minimal and the assumption is that schools will stay open until closure is the only choice remaining to them – meaning they must become breeding grounds for the virus, once again.

Calls for better ventilation, filtration, and social distancing have been rejected by the government – possibly because acting on them would involve spending money, and the only spending the Tories plan to do on Covid-19 is wasting cash by handing it to their friends (no matter how amateur they may be).

Sadly we cannot expect opposition to any of these hare-brained policies from Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

Starmer supported, to the hilt, everything Johnson has done – and failed to do – about Covid-19. That includes demanding that schools should stay open.

A U-turn now would leave him and his Tepid Tory party wide open to criticism from the real Tories.

Labour had the chance to demand school safety, support for the vulnerable, and help for businesses but squandered it. Now it is too late for Starmer to change.

Add it all up and it makes nonsense of Boris Johnson’s claim that the UK is in an “incomparably better” position than this time last year.

We are on the edge of a cliff and he is trying to push us over.

That’s unless you can make it make sense for the rest of us.

Social media comments on the information supporting this article – and more – are below:

#BorisJohnson would rather build a #RoyalYacht vanity project than protect children from #Covid19

Endangered: I don’t think school pupils are allowed to sit this close to each other any more (are they?) but if they were, air filters in their classrooms would help attack the spread of Covid-19. Too bad Boris Johnson would rather spend twice as much money on a so-called Royal Yacht, to tickle his vanity, isn’t it?

I’m writing this on the day the UK recorded a new daily record of Covid-19 infections – 129,471 cases, and the Tory government announced that the current evidence does not support more measures to combat the spread of the disease.

In fact, the Tories may well be right. At 9,546, the number of hospitalisations is much lower than the peak of 34,336 on January 18 this year, when fewer infections had been recorded.

But there’s an enormous cohort of the population that has not been fully vaccinated, and today – it seems – we have evidence that the government would rather build a new “Royal Yacht” in which privileged people would gad about the world trying to do trade deals than protect them.

I refer, of course, to school-age children.

That’s certainly what the above tweet leads This Writer to believe (that we are being led to believe what Shuaib is saying).

It’s based on this Guardian article, which says scientists and campaigners have claimed fitting air filters would “significantly” reduce the transmission of Covid-19 in schools.

Without such a measure, the statistical likelihood is still that huge numbers of school pupils and their teachers will catch the disease and that an appreciable number of them will be hospitalised; a lower proportion of the total, perhaps, but when the total is so much higher, the actual number may also be large.

The statistical likelihood is also that some of these children and adults will die – or will suffer Long Covid for an unspecified time afterwards.

But Boris Johnson doesn’t care about your kids or their teachers! He wants his yacht, because a hugely-expensive status symbol is far more important than some poor person’s brat!

Right?

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It wasn’t anti-Semitic to reject this extreme racist Israeli ambassador

Anti-Hotovely, not anti-Semitic: British-Jewish people protesting against a previous Hotovely event last month.

On the surface, it may have seemed like an angry mob chased Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely from the London School of Economics.

In fact, she was in no danger at all, being protected from protesters by UK police and embassy security personnel:

But she was booed off the LSE campus – and rightly so.

She is a racist – even anti-Semite, white supremacist war-monger:

That’s why 18 student groups signed an open letter expressing outrage that Hotovely had been asked to speak on their campus. They said said Hotovely’s racism was in clear contravention of LSE policies on external speakers.

Protesters turned out in force, outside the building where Hotevely’s lecture took place. The group LSE for Palestine said “students maintained a peaceful protest throughout the evening” and claimed that several students had walked out of the event in protest at Hotovely’s racism:

Both Conservative and Labour politicians have condemned the demonstration against this anti-Arab, genocidal racist, falsely portraying protesters as violent anti-Semites and condemning “intimidation, harassment and abuse”…

… that simply did not happen.

A prime example is the contribution by Lisa Nandy, once chair of Labour Friends of Palestine:

Now let’s read Daniel Finn’s response to her claim about freedom of speech:

Here’s a sane reaction to the claims of anti-Semitism being spread by such loose-lipped individuals as Nandy, Patel and others:

And remember that while this was going on, the Israeli government was continuing its campaign of brutal oppression against the Palestinian people:

Like this child?

You can bet he’s not saying anything now, though.

And the oppression goes on and on…

Yet racists like Hotovely, Patel and Nandy – and all their fellow travellers – are trying to gaslight you into thinking Hotovely is the victim. They are genuinely sickening.

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Food chain collapse means Brexit is hitting schools – and the media are whitewashing Johnson

School meals: Boris Johnson’s Brexit means these are soon to become a rarity.

The Brexit-prompted HGV driver shortage means school canteens are going to run out of food, it was revealed – just as English schools reopened for the autumn term.

Now, why wasn’t this ever mentioned before?

HGV drivers are chronically low-paid, which is probably why there was a shortage of 60,000 even before all the EU-national drivers – 25,000 of them – were told to go home by Boris Johnson’s gang of xenophobes (you call them the government).

There were plans to train up 19,000 new drivers but they were foiled by Covid-19.

So that’s 104,000 HGVs that aren’t servicing our supermarkets and schools. It must be terrific for reducing pollution but it’s not so good for your child’s nutritional needs.

But that isn’t even the worst of it!

Farmers are struggling to get workers to bring in the harvest, meaning much of the food they have grown over the last year may spoil.

Formerly people came from the European Union but “post-Brexit, that is a problem”.

Apparently 70,000 seasonal workers are needed but only 30,000 seasonal work permits are available to people now living in the EU. And there aren’t enough UK workers to fill the gap.

Either the Tories didn’t think about this when they were setting the number of seasonal permits available… or they deliberately planned to sabotage the harvest. Neither alternative is particularly palatable, is it?

This Writer will be charitable and suggest that the Tories didn’t think. There’s a precedent for this: they didn’t think the withdrawal from Afghanistan would be the mess they made it and they didn’t think giving Covid-related contracts worth billions of pounds to their inexperienced friends would do any harm, after all.

So this is probably just another symptom of Boris Johnson’s spectacular – nay, stellar – incompetence.

I’m sure you’ll take comfort from that when you look at your empty plate later this year.

And by the way, that’ll be partly due to a knock-on effect of all this: food prices are going to rocket:

According to the FT report,

the shortage of lorry drivers and more regulatory checks on imported food [will] combine with rising prices for fuel, freight and raw materials, experts have warned.

So that’s even before the effect on the harvest is taken into account!

People are, understandably, angry:

But some are strangely silent.

For example – the BBC. The omission that Peter Stefanovic mentions below is just symptomatic of the Corporation’s efforts to safeguard Boris Johnson and his Tory gang from any responsibility for their stupid decisions:

And – inevitably – they are helped in this by the utter failure of Labour MPs to highlight the harm and the reason for it. Anyone would think they had faults of their own to hide:

Perhaps it’s time people were reminded that they voted for this fiasco. Given a choice between a leader who would have ensured that there was food on our plates and Boris Johnson, the UK’s people voted for starvation:

For some, this will be the hardest part to swallow.

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Gavin Williamson prepares to blame school kids and parents for Covid spike

“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 2020 – no social distancing, no PPE… not safe at all. As schools reopened THIS September, NOTHING HAS CHANGED AT ALL.

We all saw this coming for a long time, didn’t we?

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has had a month and a half in which to install Covid-19 restricting measures – like improved ventilation – in schools.

He has done nothing.

And now, with schools across the UK reopening again for the autumn term, the dunce at the Department for Education is telling parents any increase in Covid infections will be their fault.

That’s right.

The new Conservative Government plan to deal with the coming wave of Covid-19 is…

You can read the mainstream media version of the story here:

Parents are understandably anxious – and angry

This parent makes the concerns clear:

It seems clear that the plan for keeping schools clear of Covid is exactly as described in this parody account:

Meanwhile, the virus is spreading across the UK, with the restriction of its spread caused by the school holidays eliminated:

Meanwhile, let’s remember the Tories’ real policy for dealing with Covid-19:

So, as your children succumb to infection because they’re being ordered to attend badly-ventilated classrooms before they’ve had a chance to be vaccinated, just remember that all this suffering is vital for Conservative government ministers and their friends to make a fat wad of money.

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Covid-19 surge in Scotland after schools reopen – but Sturgeon won’t accept it

Nicola Sturgeon: she reckons schools must stay open, even though Covid-19 infections in Scotland have rocketed since the new term started.

This is what will happen in England – and on a much larger scale.

Scottish schools have reopened after their summer break – and Covid-19 infection rates have surged to their highest-ever level.

It is the predictable result of Boris Johnson’s ‘Freedom Day’ – the relaxation of all legal restrictions on gathering and distancing, which Scotland copied a few weeks ago.

Infections have been rising since the August 2 low of 799 and stood yeterday at 5,021 – Scotland’s highest-ever total.

Stunningly, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is refusing to face the facts and go back into lockdown. She’s reluctant even to go back through the stages of social distancing.

Speaking yesterday, the First Minister said: “I don’t want to go back to anything like a full lockdown.

If we, all of us, take the basic precautions right now that we know can slow the virus, then I hope no re-imposition of restrictions will be necessary.

How many people would have to die before she changes her mind?*

And she is determined to keep schools open, even though it is clear to anybody with a brain that they are the principal point from which Covid-19 is being transmitted to the population.

Her government has stressed that keeping schools open would be a number one priority regardless of what happens, with deputy FM John Swinney saying closures should be avoided “at all costs”.

Do those costs include preventable deaths? From what Swinney said, it seems they do.

How sad. We might have expected more intelligence from the Scottish government.

Perhaps Boris Johnson has just proved that stupidity is as easily-transmissible as the virus.

*Personally, This Writer thinks Sturgeon – and any other leader whose decisions cause preventable deaths (Boris Johnson) – should be made to visit personally the families of anybody who dies as a result of her decisions to apologise and offer restitution for the wrong she will have intentionally inflicted on them. At least that would keep her out of mischief for a (long) while.

Source: Covid in Scotland: Circuit breaker lockdown ‘an option’ to tackle virus surge | The National

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There’s a really simple reason recorded Covid cases have fallen but deaths are up

It’s not over: the reason recorded Covid-19 infections are falling is that school pupils aren’t being tested; they’re on holiday.

News media like the BBC are all over the fact that the number of recorded Covid-19 infections has dropped for the seventh day running.

They’re practically ignoring the fact that the daily death total has leapt to 131 – the highest number since March.

Bit of a discrepancy, that.

The reason could be that fewer people have been tested over the last seven days.

The reason for that?

Most of the schools broke up for the summer nearly a week ago. Our kids aren’t being tested any more.

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Education professionals rubbish Williamson’s claim Covid has worsened behaviour in English schools

Wearing the dunce’s cap yet again: Gavin Williamson was happy to deliberately endanger your children by reopening schools at the height of the Covid crisis (he was forced to close them again when the demand for him to do so became overwhelming. Now he’s happy to falsely criminalise them – in order to satisfy a new profit-making market he is creating?

The Tory Education Secretary’s unevidenced claim that discipline in English schools has “inevitably” worsened after a year of lockdowns has been dismissed as nonsense by people who actually work with school pupils.

Gavin Williamson intends to impose a national network of “behaviour hubs” to spread “best practice” among schools and teachers.

But it seems there is absolutely no need for them. Why is the Tory minister so keen to force them on our schools, and on our children?

Is it anything to do with his new network of “secure schools” – prisons for youngsters – to be run by private firms as “charitable” enterprises?

But Mark Russell, the chief executive of the Children’s Society, told The Guardian:

“We are not aware of any evidence that their behaviour is worse, and our practitioners report that on the whole young people have been relieved to get back inside the classroom.”

Mary Bousted, a joint leader of the National Education Union, said:

“With all the challenges currently facing schools, playing to the gallery by talking tough on behaviour is the least useful approach the education secretary can take.”

Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, also said something – but we are already aware that he is an extremely suspect character himself so it is best to pass him by.

Stuart Lock is chief executive of the Advantage Schools trust, which includes one of the 22 schools named as hubs. Even he disagreed with Williamson’s claims:

“I don’t believe classroom behaviour has got worse than it was before the pandemic. It is probably a bit better.”

Even the man leading the new project – Tom Bennett, the DfE’s lead adviser on behaviour – has said there is no evidence of worsened behaviour:

“To be honest, the picture on behaviour we’re seeing is reasonably consistent with the behaviour we were seeing before the pandemic.”

So why has Williamson suddenly falsified a claim that our kids have all gone feral, and started wasting our money on a project to correct behaviour that hasn’t gone bad?

Well, there is this new “secure schools” aspect of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill:

Secure schools are essentially a re-branding of Young Offenders Institutions that allows private organisations to run them.

The government says it is building “schools with security, not prisons with education” but as Zahra Bei wrote in 2019, “the policy of rebranding youth jails as ‘secure schools’ provides a thinly-veiled disguise for what in essence marks the start of the biggest children’s prison expansion programme in Britain”.

Members of the British Association of Social Workers have called the plans “a penal approach rooted in the past”.

The contract for the first secure school was awarded to academy chain Oasis, which has one of the highest rates of personal exclusions in the UK.

It will be on the site of the former Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent, which was described as “a site of violence and abuse that prevented the young people who were held there from accessing learning and freedom”.

After a dispute arose over whether running a child prison could be considered a suitable activity for a charity, the government wrote clauses into its new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to ensure that running a child prison can be considered a charitable activity in law.

The change will encourage more academy chains to be providers, creating what the Tories no doubt hope will be a profitable market. And the use of charities will put distance between the Tory government and anything that happens there.

You can read further information on the “secure schools” project here.

With a new market opening up for the detention (and mistreatment?) of children, it seems clear that the organisations running it will want a supply of children.

And suddenly Gavin Williamson is talking about poor behaviour in schools. Convenient?

Source: Experts reject claim Covid has worsened behaviour in English schools | Pupil behaviour | The Guardian

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Gavin Williamson wants school discipline clampdown. Based on what evidence?

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em: Gavin Williamson was unkindly compared to Frank Spencer from the 70s sitcom. Sadly, if he were more like the character Michael Crawford immortalised, he’d probably care more about children’s well-being and less about subjecting them to “discipline” – which, in the mouth of a Tory, seems very creepy indeed.

Gavin Williamson, the dunderheaded education secretary who illegally scrapped dozens of legal rights for children, is attacking them again.

This time he’s telling us that long periods in lockdown have “inevitably” turned our children feral, and they need to have hefty amounts of discipline whacked into them now that schools are open again.

(When I say “whacked”, I should stress that he’s not actually promoting a return to physical punishments – although I wouldn’t put it past him and our government of weirdo fascists.)

I see no evidence in support of Williamson’s claim. Indeed, information he has provided himself suggests that kids in lockdown have settled down to the different routine of remote schooling via the internet.

“Technology has been invaluable keeping children learning during lockdowns and we support its use,” he said.

Unfortunately, in the very same breath, he demanded that technology is a disruptive influence and that mobile phones should be banned from schools.

He’s actually trying to do something clever here – supporting a lie with a truth. But we can all see through it – can’t we?

This Writer’s personal opinion is that mobile phones shouldn’t be allowed in classrooms. If kids insist on bringing them in, teachers should keep a list of those who have them, and should collect them in the morning and give them back at the end of the school day.

It would be too easy to use internet-enabled mobiles to cheat – and that would undermine the point of going to school.

The points about cyberbullying and inappropriate use of social media are, on balance, also fair:

Mr Williamson has made banning mobile phones in schools a key part of his plan, saying they not only distract from “exercise and good old-fashioned play” but also foment cyber bullying and the inappropriate use of social media.

But he has produced no evidence to suggest that possession of a mobile phone, use of it as an education tool during lockdown, or indeed being forced to stay at home at all have eroded discipline in children.

Indeed, if our kids have buckled down and studied at home, without a teacher standing over them, that tends to indicate that they have employed self-discipline. Doesn’t it?

Also, he hasn’t provided any information about the kind of discipline he intends to impose. Is he advocating the conversion of our schools into training grounds for some kind of imposed fascism – the “Johnson Youth”?

The backlash has started:

Last word: It has been alleged that Williamson’s discipline drive is a retaliation against kids who criticised him for policies like his stupid algorithm-based plan to replace exam marks, that automatically assumed that state school pupils would not achieve results as high as those who were privately-educated…

Can anybody provide evidence to support this? I haven’t seen any.

But you have to admit, based on his behaviour, it rings true.

Source: Gavin Williamson backs mobile phone ban in schools and claims children have lacked ‘discipline’ during lockdown | Evening Standard

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Shameless Tory Children’s Minister tries to steal credit for Marcus Rashford’s school meals campaign

Brazen: Ford’s false claims are disproved by her own voting record.

How brazen can these Tories be?

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford has told Good Morning Britain viewers that she – not Marcus Rashford – was the person who got the government to extend free school meals into the holidays during the Covid-19 crisis, and who created lockdown meal vouchers.

She said she was not influenced by Rashford’s campaign at all.

Her claim has been ridiculed by those of us who can read Hansard, which shows that she voted against demands for such schemes – twice.

See for yourself:

Social media commentators have used the claim to make Ford a target for ridicule – and rightly so:

I want to know what Marcus Rashford – who received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last year for his  services to vulnerable children in the UK during COVID-19, has to say about Ms Ford’s claims.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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