Tag: schools (page 1 of 5)

Brexit Britain = hungry kids

As a former teacher, I almost cried reading this. Can someone with some authority and leadership stand up and say not only was Brexit a terrible idea, but the current government’s fiscal “strategy” will absolutely break this country?

Children are so hungry that they are eating rubbers or hiding in the playground because they can’t afford lunch, according to reports from headteachers across England.

[…]

One school in Lewisham, south-east London, told the charity about a child who was “pretending to eat out of an empty lunchbox” because they did not qualify for free school meals and did not want their friends to know there was no food at home.

Community food aid groups also told the Observer this week that they are struggling to cope with new demand from families unable to feed their children. “We are hearing about kids who are so hungry they are eating rubbers in school,” said Naomi Duncan, chief executive of Chefs in Schools. “Kids are coming in having not eaten anything since lunch the day before. The government has to do something.”

Source: Schools in England warn of crisis of ‘heartbreaking’ rise in hungry children | The Guardian

Kids need life on the highest volume

This article is based on the author’s experiences as a teacher in state schools in the US. I should imagine the situation is exacerbated there, but it can’t be that great elsewhere, either.

My own kids seem like they’re OK. Our youngest, whose had Covid like me this week, has gone back to remote learning, which she enjoys as she completes her work quickly and then does other things. I think it’s particularly hard on teenagers, like our eldest, who are preparing for important exams.

The data about learning loss and the mental health crisis is devastating. Overlooked has been the deep shame young people feel: Our students were taught to think of their schools as hubs for infection and themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.

When we finally got back into the classroom in September 2020, I was optimistic, even as we would go remote for weeks, sometimes months, whenever case numbers would rise. But things never returned to normal.

When we were physically in school, it felt like there was no longer life in the building. Maybe it was the masks that made it so no one wanted to engage in lessons, or even talk about how they spent their weekend. But it felt cold and soulless. My students weren’t allowed to gather in the halls or chat between classes. They still aren’t. Sporting events, clubs and graduation were all cancelled. These may sound like small things, but these losses were a huge deal to the students. These are rites of passages that can’t be made up.

[…]

They are anxious and depressed. Previously outgoing students are now terrified at the prospect of being singled out to stand in front of the class and speak. And many of my students seem to have found comfort behind their masks. They feel exposed when their peers can see their whole face.

[…]

At the beginning of the pandemic, adults shamed kids for wanting to play at the park or hang out with their friends. We kept hearing, “They’ll be fine. They’re resilient.” It’s true that humans, by nature, are very resilient. But they also break. And my students are breaking. Some have already broken.

When we look at the Covid-19 pandemic through the lens of history, I believe it will be clear that we betrayed our children. The risks of this pandemic were never to them, but they were forced to carry the burden of it. It’s enough. It’s time for a return to normal life and put an end to the bureaucratic policies that aren’t making society safer, but are sacrificing our children’s mental, emotional, and physical health.

Our children need life on the highest volume. And they need it now.

Source: I’m a Public School Teacher. The Kids Aren’t Alright. | Common Sense

Reducing exam stress by removing pointless exams

In the UK, it used to be the case that children could leave school at 16. This was the reason for ‘O’ levels (which my parents took), and GCSEs, which I sat at that age.

However, these days, young people must remain in education or training until they are 18 years old. What, then, is the point of taking exams aged 16 and 18?

A group of Tory MPs has written a report, with one of the authors, Flick Drummond, making some good points:

The paper argues that preparation for GCSE exams means that pupils miss a large chunk of valuable learning because of the time taken up with mock exams and revision, followed by the exams themselves. “That’s almost six months out of a whole year spent preparing for exams,” said Drummond.


She said she was particularly concerned by the impact of exams on mental health, citing a report backed by the Children’s Society in August that ranked England 36th out of 45 countries in Europe and North America for wellbeing.


Instead, the new report says, the exams should be replaced by a baccalaureate, which would cover several years’ study and would allow children more time from the age of 15 to settle on the subjects they wanted to study in the sixth form for A-levels or vocational qualifications such as T-levels and apprenticeships, and to explore potential careers in a structured way.

Richard Adams, Tory MPs back ditching GCSE exams in English school system overhaul (The Guardian)

As a parent of children who could be affected by this, I actually think this should be trialled first in the private sector and then rolled out in the state sector. Too often, the private sector benefits from treating state school pupils as guinea pigs, and then cherry-picking what works.